Need to insist on renewal of fire safety certificate every year: official

As commercial establishments and industrial units in Puducherry require the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the fire department only when they first begin operations, many of them ignore the basic maintenance of fire safety equipment, said A. Suresh, fire station officer at the Subbaiah Salai fire station.

“Fire fighting equipment should be maintained. Most of the industrial units only care about the NOC. They get a fire extinguisher only for the NOC. Industry licensing authorities must insist on renewal of fire safety certificate every year,” said Suresh. He compared the situation in the Union Territory to Tamil Nadu where the trade licence is renewed every year by the Fire Services Department.

Use of extinguishers

The fire at the Bank of Travancore in October last year was among the largest in Puducherry. Suresh said people at institutions must be trained to use the fire extinguishers. “When the fire broke out at the bank, three people were around. The fire extinguisher was also installed. But they didn’t know how to operate it properly,” he said. Following the fire at the bank in October last year, the fire station has requested the procurement of an aerial platform ladder which can reach 30 metres. The absence of one had hampered efforts then.

The Kumbakonam fire alerted all schools to install fire safety equipment and the education department also took it up seriously. The same pressure should be exerted by the licensing authority on commercial establishments and industries as well, observed Suresh.

“We have to be alert at all times. Even if we are free at the station, we cannot think of stepping out during our working hours as an emergency call may come any time. A fire station driver is the first to get into the vehicle,” said Ganeson, a driver with the station. The fire station observed the Fire Service Week from April 14 to 20, with an essay competition for school children and distributing pamphlets, publishing advertisements in newspapers and putting up banners on basic safety measures.

Fire Service Week

The Fire Service Week is observed nationwide under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs to commemorate of the fire fighters who died during the April 14, 1944 fire at Bombay Port.

S. Natarajan, a fireman for the last 13 years, recalls rescue efforts during the Cyclone Thane as being among the most challenging in his career. “There is a satisfaction of knowing you are of service to the people,” he said.

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