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Nearly 1,500 schools in Delhi lack fire safety clearance

It seems like a disaster waiting to happen with nearly 1,500 schools in the national capital lacking fire safety clearance.

Updated: Apr 14, 2011, 12:23 PM IST

New Delhi: It seems like a disaster waiting to happen with nearly 1,500 schools in the national capital lacking fire safety clearance.

"Till now we have issued fire safety certificates to 60 per cent of the school buildings in the national capital. Rest of the schools (defaulting) have either not approached the fire services department for the clearance or not complied with the prescribed fire safety norms," Delhi Fire Service Director AK Sharma said.

There are over 4,500 schools in Delhi, including 942 government-run ones, according to official reports.

Sharma said the department will issue notices to the defaulting schools but stressed that it is up to the education department to tell the Fire department about how and which all
buildings have not received the NOC.

"Earlier all the school buildings were governed under the Education Act but even now it is up to the Education department to let us know which buildings haven`t received
clearance," Sharma said.

A fire clearance certificate is not a guarantee that the building will never meet with an accident, it just means a reasonable fire safety has been ensured, Sharma said.

It also depends on the maintenance of the building later, he said.

Under DFS rules 2010 under Delhi Fire Service Act 2007, the occupier of the building or premises, as the case may be, shall maintain the fire prevention and fire safety
measures provided in the building or premises at all times in best repairs for use by the occupants or members of Fire Service or both in the event of an outbreak of fire.
"We have come up with new and comprehensive law. Because of the CWG, we have not been able to implement the law as a whole," Sharma said.

Almost all cinema halls, guest houses, big malls and high rise buildings in the city have been issued an NOC by the department.

Asked about how the department handles the emergency fire situations in places with narrow lanes, which obstruct the proper movement of fire brigades and tenders, Sharma said the department tries to adopt itself progressively.
"We cannot make roads wider or stop encroachment. We have reduced the size of our fire vehicles. We have made the provision for smaller size vehicles. Like an Innova is converted into a fire service vehicle and likewise we use motorcycles as fire tenders," he said.

Under the new rules, the fire safety certificate issued shall be valid for a period of five years for residential buildings (other than hotels) and three years for non-residential buildings including hotels from date of issue.