Use tech, enforce building codes to fight fire: Mishra

Use tech, enforce building codes to fight fire: Mishra

Additional Principal Secretary to Prime Minister of India, P K Mishra addresses a gathering on the occasion of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)'s 15th Formation Day, in New Delhi. PTI

Warning that the risk of chemical and industrial fire remains "very high" in a "rapidly developing" country like India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Principal Secretary P K Mishra on Friday lamented that we are lacking in incorporating latest technology in firefigthing while enforcing building codes remains a challenge.

Speaking at the 15th Formation Day of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), he said fire safety is indeed a matter of concern as one has recently witnessed the "devastating" forest fire in the Amazon and the heart-rending Surat fire incident.

"In a rapidly developing country like ours, the risk of chemical and industrial fire remains very high. Similarly, the ever-burgeoning urban areas and SMART cities require fire risk mitigation planning...Fire preparedness requires all relevant stakeholders -- from the national to the local and community level -- to come together," he said.

Insisting that managing fire accidents remains a big challenge as there is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution, he said there is an urgent need to address "major challenge" of lack of trained manpower.

"While provisions regarding fire safety, prescribed in existing building codes and fire manuals, are in place, their enforcement remains a challenge. Those in charge of enforcing these regulations should be trained on legal and technical provisions, fire types, associated risks, fire prevention, mitigation and response mechanisms," he said.

He advised that all critical infrastructure, shopping complexes, commercial establishments and government buildings should be regularly audited for fire safety and necessary preventive measures be put in place on priority. This is "especially relevant" for major cities where adhering to municipal laws can prevent the recent Surat-like incidents where fire at a coaching centre in a commercial complex killed many students, he said.

He also highlighted the lack in incorporating the latest technology and equipment for fire prevention, mitigation and response.

Mishra suggested that stakeholders could look at Mumbai as an example as it is using drones to tackle fires that erupt in high-rise buildings.

These drones fly over the affected area and give an idea of the spread and intensity of the fire and are also useful for search and rescue operations, he said adding others could also emulate the Mumbai model which also use hand-held laser infra-red cameras as well as remote-controlled robots equipped with thermal imaging cameras for fire-fighting operations in locations that are dangerous for the fire-fighters.

In cities and town like Mumbai, Hyderabad and Gurugram (Haryana), he said fire-fighters are given bikes fitted with customised equipment and they are able to navigate congested areas easily in a shorter duration. "We can think of rolling out similar mobile fire stations across the country," he added.

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