S. Vijay Kumar

The initiative comes weeks ahead of the shopping season

Emergency exit routes should be easily accessible

Fire tenders will be stationed strategically

CHENNAI: The Department of Fire and Rescue Services will conduct fire safety audit at major malls across the State commencing on Wednesday. The initiative comes weeks ahead of the shopping season. In Chennai, the audit will be carried out at ten places including T. Nagar, Purasawalkam and Mylapore.

Director General of Police and Director, Fire and Rescue Services R. Natraj said fire consultants would be part of the systematic check that would be undertaken simultaneously in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchi, Salem, Madurai and Tirunelveli.

“We want to ensure that fire fighting equipment and emergency exit routes are in place. Where inadequacy of safety measures comes to light, a notice would be served on the management to comply with the mandatory fire prevention/fighting arrangements within a timeframe,” Mr. Natraj told The Hindu here on Tuesday.

Besides smoke alarm and fire extinguishers, emergency exit routes should be easily accessible at malls.

“We are insisting commercial establishments to have flame-proof wirings and fittings. Electric short-circuit constitutes to at least 70 per cent of fire accidents.”

He said fire tenders would be stationed strategically during the shopping season to reach accident site in the shortest possible time. Like traffic wardens of the Tamil Nadu police, at least fifty ‘fire safety wardens’ would be inducted in all fire stations in the State.

“It will be purely a voluntary service…we will give basic training in fire fighting and rescue operations. At the school and college levels, steps are being taken to form ‘fire safety brigades’.”

Mr. Natraj said a meeting of major insurance companies would be convened soon to press for discount in premium for organisations that fulfil conditions of fire safety. “After a thorough inspection, the department would issue certificates to institutions that comply with fire safety norms.

“Some kind of standardisation is required. In some developed countries, this practice of giving discount on premium is in vogue.”