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Massive fire incidents in Gujarat, Delhi draw focus on need for enhanced safety measures in public places

massive fire incidents in gujarat  delhi draw focus on need for enhanced safety measures in public places
Rajkot, May 25: A massive fire breaks out at the TRP game zone, in Rajkot on Saturday. Reportedly, over 20 people died in the incident. (ANI Photo)

New Delhi, May 26: Recent fire incidents have highlighted the critical need for comprehensive safety measures and proper equipment in public spaces. Two tragic fires in Rajkot, Gujarat, and Delhi yesterday resulted in devastating heart rendering losses of innocent lives, highlighting the urgent need for proactive measures and developing a culture of safety among the population so that they do not dare to violate the law or do encroachments of the fire gaps or construct extra stories of the buildings without constructing multiple fire escape routes and safety measures. Let there not be any innocent killings because of man-made accidents. Let no family need to suffer for someone else’s fault.



Rajkot Gaming Zone Tragedy


In Rajkot, a massive fire at a gaming zone named TRP claimed 28 lives, including nine children. Media reported that the facility was operating without a no-objection certificate (NOC) for fire clearance and had only one exit, making escape impossible for many. The fire, suspected to have been caused by a short circuit, erupted during a weekend discount event, attracting a large crowd. This incident raises serious concerns about the enforcement of safety regulations in public entertainment venues.


Are other entertainment venues safe for us? The answer remains: we do not know. Since the Uphaar Cinema case in New Delhi where scores of cinema-goers were killed and the proprietors of the cinema halls were punished, still we have not learned the lessons. In the Uphaar Cinema case also the public and the ones who lost their loved ones persuaded the case and had some results. It is always a knee-jerk reaction. Then we forget the issue and violators keep encroaching on fire gaps, hardly using standard wiring and other materials for the buildings, putting others at risk.



Delhi Hospital Fire


In another heartbreaking incident, a fire at the New Born Baby Care hospital in East Delhi’s Vivek Vihar killed seven newborns. Brave neighbours risked their lives to save others, but the lack of proper safety protocols and emergency preparedness led to this tragic outcome. Media reports indicate that the hospital staff were among the first to flee, highlighting the dire need for proper training and emergency procedures, and regular audits of places like hospitals.

Learning From the Past

Factually, responses to such incidents have often been reactive rather than proactive. For instance, Delhi’s notorious Blue Line bus accidents prompted the government to replace these buses with safer, low-floor buses equipped with automatic gears and powerful brakes. That is a success story and a case study for the authorities on how to implement the rules.

Similarly, legal amendments have encouraged bystanders to assist in road accidents without fear of legal repercussions, fostering a more supportive community response unlike earlier times people would avoid accident places and would hardly carry the injured to the hospital for not becoming an eye witness to the incident in court or police. To prevent such tragedies, we need to learn from the above case studies and public places must be equipped with essential safety tools and protocols. This includes:

Fire Escape Routes and Equipment: I am sure the government will react that we already have the protocol and implement it making it a must for individuals to have an NOC. But if you even today make a cursory survey, it is all in the papers, in the files. Go to any mushrooming tuition centres, students are stuffed like cattle classes in the rooms and no emergency exit is found in most of these centres. The same is true in the factories, where risks and accidents are never ruled out. Go to any medium-scale factories, protocols of fire escape etc are hardly followed.

Establishing multiple, clearly marked escape routes, and installing fire extinguishers and alarms at strategic locations is a necessity as making the rules public-friendly and easily acceptable and helping the establishment to achieve safe surroundings rather than making complicated and adding more layers of bureaucracy in the name of environment or pollution etc. Schools, colleges, and business establishments all need to follow the safety rules.

Equally training those who are present in such centres how to respond in such situations. Equipment need not be showcasing pieces to cheat the law but should be public friendly, ready to use in easy steps.

In another study case of New York City’s Fire Safety regulations: Following several deadly fires, New York City introduced strict fire safety regulations for residential and commercial buildings, including mandatory fire escapes, smoke detectors, and sprinkler systems. We need to learn from other successful stories.

Take for example Tokyo EarthQuake: Tokyo, located in a seismically active zone, has implemented stringent building codes and conducts regular earthquake drills. Public education campaigns ensure that residents know how to respond during an earthquake.

Regular Safety Audits: Conduct regular safety audits to ensure compliance with fire safety standards and rectify any identified issues promptly. It should be multilayered so that everyone remains accountable.

Staff training: Regular training for staff on emergency response, including the use of fire-fighting equipment and first-aid procedures. This training should be mandatory and frequently updated.

Public Awareness and Involvement: Encouraging community members to report safety violations in public buildings, whether they are hospitals, educational institutions, or factories. This proactive public involvement can prevent potential disasters. The government needs to advertise and appeal to the public to report violations on specific call centres that will help the audit teams reach the spots to verify.

Community Initiatives

There should be in parallel residents and local organizations who can take steps to improve safety. Residents Welfare Associations or Mohalla Committees need to install several fire extinguishers and security systems in public spaces. NDMA, SDMA and fire services can help in getting the residents and volunteers trained in such cases how to operate the equipment.

What is needed is public interest and initiatives by the associations, which may be a market association or manufacturing units’ association. We have seen fire extinguishers placed in several buildings and staircases and several of them are expired ones. Go and ask those who are stationed in those buildings if they know how to use the fire extinguisher, majority of them will say no.

In addition, provide basic first aid training to volunteers and equip common places with first aid kits: establishing safe assembly points in case of evacuations during emergencies, such as earthquakes or fires. These points should be well-marked and known to all in-house members of every building. Finally encourage households to maintain emergency kits with essentials like water, non-perishable food, first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, and important documents.

Government and Community Collaboration: The government has established systems for disaster preparedness, but public awareness remains low. Community-wide drills and public education campaigns can bridge this gap. Authorities can collaborate with local communities to organize training sessions and mock drills, ensuring that everyone knows how to respond effectively in an emergency. Help to install Fire Extinguishers and Alarms. Every public building should have fire extinguishers and smoke alarms installed at strategic locations. Staff and volunteers should be trained in their use.

The most important step is public awareness campaigns that can educate people on how to respond in emergencies, the importance of reporting safety violations, and the need for proactive safety measures and develop and maintain comprehensive emergency response plans for different types of emergencies, including fires, earthquakes, and industrial accidents that should be public friendly rather than a load on them. These plans should be regularly reviewed and updated.

Preventing tragedies like those in Rajkot and Delhi requires a collective effort. Public places must adhere to strict safety standards, and communities must be proactive in ensuring their safety. By equipping ourselves with knowledge and resources, we can respond effectively to emergencies and save lives. We must prioritise preventive measures and training, fostering a culture of safety and preparedness. Only then can we hope to reduce the frequency and impact of such devastating incidents?