Kochi

Broadway sitting on tinderbox

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Lack of adequate fire extinguishers, sprinklers and permanently fixed fire exits is the major deficiency found in the area.

Thanks to its cramped lanes, defunct and poor fire safety measures, the Broadway market -- a busy city hub -- will be highly vulnerable in case of a major fire accident.

According to officials of the Fire and Rescue Services, it will just require a spark to start an inferno at the marketplace, fuelled by dry clothes, paper and wood that are stocked inside the shops or dumped in careless heaps. The gross lapses in fire safety of the location, visited by several thousands daily, came to light during a surprise inspection here on Thursday.

Lack of adequate fire extinguishers, sprinklers and permanently fixed fire exits is the major deficiency found in the area.

A safety audit pointed out that the narrow and congested roads prevented the entry of more than one fire tender in an emergency while the region also lacked water hydrants that are supposed to be located in several strategic areas along the street to aid quick response of the fire brigade to control a fire outbreak. “In case of a fire accident, fire tenders will arrive at the spot from various units of the department within minutes. However, they will not be able to enter the fire site for lack of adequate parking space,’’ explained R. Prasad, Divisional Fire Officer, Kochi.

In his opinion, lack of pavement space along the roads and absence of water storage for fire fighting also remained a bottleneck affecting timely response. The absence of fire escape routes and setback area also add to the woes.

“When enquiries were made, the majority of the building owners even refused to share details of their preparedness with us. A detailed inspection later revealed that none of them have installed any equipment as stipulated by the law,’’ he said.

With overcrowding narrowing down the entry points to the marketplace, the fire department is now embarking on an alternative plan to set up a fire hydrant using the water bodies crisscrossing the area. “A survey is on to identify the alternative fire fighting plan for the region other than deploying fire tenders. The final draft is slated for release after a week,’’ Mr. Prasad said.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 4:11:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/Broadway-sitting-on-tinderbox/article14630644.ece

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