In the line of fire

Nina C George, DH News Service Jan 11 2018, 23:31 IST
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The officials point out that many small restaurants in the city have violated fire safety standards.

The recent incident of a fire at Kumbara Sangha building in Kalasipalya where five people were killed has brought to fore the violations when it comes to adhering to fire safety standards.

Most of the buildings that come on small plots don't usually adhere to safety rules, confirm officials with The Karnataka Fire and Emergency Services (KF&ES) Department. This wing has the power to issue a non-compliance certificate to a building owner and direct the BBMP for cancellation of the occupancy certificate.

A senior official with the Karnataka Fire and Emergency Services (KF&ES) Department, points out that the Kalasipalya bar and restaurant that caught fire had violated all fire safety standards. "That structure comes under the low rise category. It had no proper stairway and ventilation. The interiors were modified many times over to accommodate more customers. The restaurant had violated all the norms of the National Building Code and made additional alterations without seeking prior permission," confirms the official. He also observes that more than half of the smaller and makeshift restaurants in the city have violated all the safety rules.

Bengalureans who regularly dine out observe that most of smaller restaurants are prime culprits when it comes to flouting safety norms. Satish Mohapatra, an IT professional who regularly eats out, says that he has come across a lot houses, especially in Indiranagar and Kammanahalli that have been converted into restaurants. "I wonder how can a house be converted into a restaurant because they weren't initially meant to be a restaurant and wouldn't have the safety measures like emergency exits, sprinklers and fire extinguishers," says Satish. He also points out that he has never seen the required safety requirements in most of the smaller restaurants.

Foodies like Priya Sharma, a marketing and communications professional, says that people always look for a place with good music, great ambience and good food. "We never usually think about whether it is safe to dine out at a particular restaurant. I can confidently say that small restaurants don't have the required safety measures and emergency exits. If a fire ever breaks out in these small places then I am sure the lives of many people will be at stake," she says.

People like Anu Pallavi, working in the real estate sector, feels the city has a mix of restaurants that have been built and modified to fully comply with the fire safety norms and those that have totally ignored the safety measures. "I have noticed that some of the restaurants in high rise buildings have fire extinguishers but some of the other norms required for fire safety norms have been ignored. There are also many restaurants that don't even have the basic fire safety requirements like sprinklers, emergency exits and fire alarms. These places need to be inspected on a regular basis and the violators must be pulled up," reasons Anu.

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