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Traders doubt whether fire safety measures are adequate

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SPACE CRUNCH: Fire-fighters have tough time dousing a fire at a textile shop on a narrow lane in T. Nagar recently.
SPACE CRUNCH: Fire-fighters have tough time dousing a fire at a textile shop on a narrow lane in T. Nagar recently.

Deepa H Ramakrishnan

New technology evolved to fight fires in high-rise buildings on small streets

CHENNAI: “Just the word fire could start a stampede in a crowded store. It is up to the trading community and authorities concerned to adhere to safety rules,” said a trader of T. Nagar who did not want to be quoted.

Though T. Nagar has not witnessed many major fires in the recent past, if one happens, it could be a disaster. ‘We have installed fire safety measures, but will they be enough?’ is the question that traders and shoppers raised.

Apart from the fire in Saravana Stores on Ranganathan Street last year, there have not been many major fires in T. Nagar in recent years. There was one fire in a home appliances store in 2007 and a smaller one recently on the office premises of RmKV.

Fire and Rescue Services Director K. R. Shyam Sundar said that after the Saravana Stores fire, the department went into a huddle and has now come up with a new technology to fight fires in high-rise buildings situated on small streets. It has issued show-cause notices to traders.

“We have been inspecting buildings and instructing them on precautionary measures to be taken. As they are all high-rise buildings, we have asked that smoke detectors, sprinkler systems and wet riser systems be put in place. For buildings that do not have enough set-back space, we suggest alternative fire safety measures,” he said.

As far as the Chennai Corporation is concerned, it insists on traders getting a no-objection certificate from the Fire Department when it is classified as a dangerous trade.

Multi-storeyed buildings

CMDA sources said that over a period of time tens of ground + 1 buildings have become multi-storeyed without approvals.

“The roads are narrow and emergency services find it difficult to enter the place if something happens. Traders have to cooperate and come forward to restore to their original plans.”

Presently in most stores there is not enough space and as a result, they end up blocking all exits.

The traders do not seem to be worried about their own staff of the shoppers. Only if the Fire Services, CMDA, Chennai Corporation and the legal system come together and do something strong, can something be done, they opined.

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