Concern over insufficient emergency exits in retail showrooms

The lack of emergency exits in most of the commercial establishments in the city has raised safety concerns among the people.

Until recently, business establishments and showrooms, including textile, utensils, jewelry and furniture, were operated on small premises. It was rare to find showrooms measuring more than 1,000 sq. ft in Tiruchi.

Thanks to the growing purchase power of the people, some of the leading traders began to expand the size of their showrooms by buying neighbouring shops and business establishments. Now, there are showrooms that are more than 10,000 sq ft in size. Some of them are multi-storeyed buildings.

Major commercial streets such as NSB Road, Singarathope, Big Bazaar Street, Nandi Kovil Street and Chinnakadai Street are teeming with hundreds of festive shoppers since the first week of October. The crowds continue to surge as the day nears for the Deepavali. Except for furniture showrooms, all other showrooms witness huge crowds all through the day.

They spend many hours in the showrooms as most of them have centralised air conditioner facilities. Of concern is the absence of sufficient emergency exit points in the showrooms. Many do not have windows as they have air conditioners. There are showrooms that have fire extinguishers and first aid boxes. But they are not visible to many.

Civic activists, who express serious concern over the lack of emergency exits, point out that several showrooms, small or big, have scant regard for fire safety norms. Also, they fail to adhere to the rules and regulations on safety standards while expanding their showrooms.

“Most showrooms have only one way to go to upper floors and climb down. The space is insufficient to handle customers if any untoward incident happens. The shops have hardly emergency exits,” says H. Ghouse Baig, a civic activist in the city.

N. Jamaludeen, another activist, says that while giving plan approval for construction or expansion of showrooms, officials fail to ensure the fire safety protocols. It is a serious issue. It is important to put in place all fire safety measures well in advance rather than waiting for untoward incidents.

K. Anushuya, District Fire Officer, told The Hindu that surprise inspections would be conducted to check whether the commercial establishments had fire safety infrastructure or not. It was important that they should have emergency exits. The traders would be sensitised to the need for safety features on their premises.

Heavy crowds were seen in markets ahead of the festival. Fire safety mock drills had been planned in crowded areas, she said.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 4:50:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/concern-over-insufficient-emergency-exits-in-retail-showrooms/article37214271.ece

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