The recent unfortunate incident at Kamala Mills in Mumbai where 14 people lost their lives has shook up municipal bodies to take a stock of the fire safety norms in eateries. The Kailash Bar fire in Bangalore was yet another shock, where the lack of a second exit was to blame.
Since many of us often visit such eateries, this data gave the goosebumps – just 400 out of 5000 eateries/pubs/bars in Delhi happen to meet the safety criteria.
While eateries with less than 50 seats do not require fire safety clearance, one needs to watch out for the overall access-ways and safety arrangements in the entire floor and the building. Tables are added, and with time, more than the permissible number of people may share the space.
Winding metal staircases leading up to restaurants or pubs are undoubtedly charming. But one may as well bear in mind that such ‘hideaways’ that carry an element of surprise may not entirely stand up to fire-safety criteria. So how can one assess if the restaurant, eatery or pub that we visit is a safe place?
Some crucial safety features are mentioned below:
A wide staircase and entrance door – this is the foremost visible feature. Wide corridors also add a feeling of a secure access and exit, free of obstructions.
Stacked up … NOT – There are restaurants which are spread over 2 or 3 floors, and are connected by barely 2 feet wide stairs. This could pose a safety risk in case of a stampede-like exit
No table too far from the door – yes, this makes sense. Even the restroom door shouldn’t be tucked away in obscurity
When the building is rather dated – the old-world charm is at stake if the structure is unsafe. Especially if there are more than 5 floors and the only lift has collapsible doors with a staircase around it.
Cleanliness and Maintenance – no loosely hanging switchboards in passageways or rags and other waste materials should be strewn around
Preventive Steps Under Way
Hauz Khas Villager Traders’ Association in Delhi is said to have approached civic authorities to build an underground water reservoir having 1 lakh litres capacity. This TOI feature lists few other measures essential for fire safety – minimum 6 fire extinguishers on each floor, fire-rated shaft doors, water curtains, hose pipes and smoke management systems.
Close to 9 restaurants in Connaught Place, Delhi, have been issued show cause notices by New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) for violating safety norms. Even the BMC in Mumbai has set out to demolish unauthorized extensions in commercial establishments.
Extra care needs to be exercised in those spaces where inflammable items are served. Both design and operational prudence, along with adherence to bye-laws, can go a long way in ensuring safety of occupants and users.
Do share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section on how we can be more vigilant in public places when it comes to fire-safety.