Question marks over fire-fighting machinery available in various educational institutions of West Bengal

Less than a fortnight after a major fire broke out in the chemistry laboratory of the renowned Presidency University here, another fire broke out in the computer laboratory of a 193-year-old reputed school situated just across the road during school hours on Thursday.

Though all the students were evacuated immediately and four fire tending engines extinguished the flames within an hour, the incident left behind 27 charred computers along with several questions regarding the fire-fighting machinery available in the various educational institutions in the State.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Pratim Chatterjee announced during the day that notices have been sent to all educational institutions in the State housing science laboratories to open “fire control rooms” for meeting emergency requirements.

The fire that broke out in the computer laboratory of Hindu School – established in 1817 -- is suspected to have been caused due to a short-circuit in an air-conditioning machine, according to fire service personnel.

School Principal Shyam Narayan Bandopadhyay said that three laboratory assistants locked the room after they saw smoke coming out of it and alerted the school authorities.

The neighbouring Sanskrit Collegiate School was also evacuated along with Hindu School.

“The fire tenders reached the spot within 15 minutes and the fire could be brought under control within half-an-hour. Short-circuit in the AC machine is suspected to have started the blaze though it can be ascertained only after a forensic investigation. No one was injured in the incident,” D.P. Biswas, Additional Director-General of Fire Service, told The Hindu.

Asked if the school had adequate arrangements to cope with such a situation, Mr. Biswas said the matter is under investigation.

Presidency fire

Mr. Chatterjee said preliminary investigation reports points towards a short-circuit being responsible for the fire at Presidency University on October 29 but added that the final forensic report is still awaited.

Speaking about setting up fire control rooms at all educational institutions housing science laboratories, he said the matter has been discussed with the Director-General of Fire Services and the institutions have been asked to submit their opinions about it.

Mr. Chatterjee also raised the issue of upgrading the fire safety apparatus in the State secretariat as well as set up a fire control room.

“I have written several times to the Chief Minister and the Minister for Public Works Department for funds required for carrying out re-wiring work at the Secretariat but have not received any reply,” he said.

  • Fire is suspected to have been caused due to a short-circuit in an air-conditioning machine
  • A major fire had broken out in the chemistry lab of the renowned Presidency varsity only recently