Playing with fire

Gross violation

Playing with fire

The blaze at NYX lounge bar on Residency Road the other day brought into picture the gross violations that high-rise buildings in the City are notorious for.
 Besides gross building bylaw violations, everything at NYX provided fodder to the fire. The furniture and interiors were made of wood and asbestos with an eye only on aesthetics and not safety. The wooden stools, bamboo shoots that acted as artificial separators only strengthened the fire further.

In fact, NYX is not an isolated case in the City as many terraces on high-rise buildings, open spaces above multi-storied buildings are housing pubs, discos and restaurants. Safety is overlooked and attention is paid to spruce up the interiors to attract maximum customers. The remains of the NYX is just a proof of what could happen to these places in case of fires.

     Metrolife visited a few pubs and restaurants in the City and found out that most restaurateurs have plush interiors but none of them have made any efforts to use fire resistant material or even coat the interiors with chemicals that prevent fire from spreading. You’d find that these places have a wooden finish. The seating is either wooden or fibre, both highly combustible materials. And bamboo seems to be a permanent fixture at most hotels.

    The hoteliers admit that they haven’t made any effort to use fire resistant material when doing up the interiors. The owner of a popular restaurant on Residency Road says that he has spent nothing less than 30 lakh on sprucing up the interiors of his two-floor hotel. “Honestly, the hotel has been renovated at least thrice and coating the inside with fire resistant material is something that never crossed my mind,” says the owner.
He further explains that this idea has  never been recommended by the interior designer and hasn’t been made mandatory by the government, “then why should we unnecessarily invest in it,” he wonders.

     Le Rock on Brigade Road has furnished its interiors with Australian wood with vinyl coating. “We have kept our ceiling plain and simple. The wiring too has been kept at its minimum. Most of these short circuits occur because of faulty wiring. We use CFL and LED lights that are expensive and consume less electricity,” says T R Santosh, manager of the pub and restaurant.
 

Official speak
The Karnataka Fire and Emergency Services Department officials say that most hotels in the City have violated basic standards
relating to construction and safety aspects.
B G Changappa, director of Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services says that the department had rejected a licence to start a discotheque at NYX in 2008, yet the pub owners have gone ahead and started one. “Most high-rise buildings in the City have multiple occupancy and each occupant follows a different rule. We don’t have the permission to forcibly enter a premises and conduct our own investigation. We have to prepare a report and submit it to the police,” explains Changappa. He says the basic requirement for any building is to have fire resistance materials, in addition to safety measures and keep the exit and entry points free. “If the interiors are coated with a fire resistant material, it will prevent fire from spreading for at least two hours until some help arrives.’’

Giving two hoots to the rules
Following are the fire prevention and fire-fighting
provisions for high-rise buildings:
*The width of the road which abuts a high rise building must be more than 12 metre wide.
*Height clearance of five metres have to be maintained at every entry point.
*There must be a minimum of two stairway to any high rise building.
*There must be fire extinguishers, hose reel, automatic sprinkler system, automatic detection and fire alarm and terrace tanks.

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