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Thursday, Feb 12, 2009
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HYDERABAD: The alarm bells are ringing. The blast at S.M. Laboratories in Moula Ali Industrial Area on Monday night has again brought into focus the inadequate fire safety systems in industrial estates here.
Three years ago, the Andhra Pradesh Fire and Emergency Services Department declared 1,330 industries and factories in 11 industrial areas in Ranga Reddy district as potential fire-traps. Shockingly, 94 per cent of them were not equipped with mandatory fire-fighting systems, even as incidents continue to endanger the lives of workers.
The National Building Code stipulates a minimum of 4.5 metres open space all around the premises for movement of fire tenders, underground water storage tanks and two escape routes in the event of an accident. A majority of industries ignored recommendations made by the Radhakrishna Rao Committee on industrial fire safety measures, officials said.Classic instance
The blast at S.M. Laboratories is a classic example of managements blatantly ignoring safety norms. “Wet-risers, extinguishers and water storage tanks with one lakh litre capacity on the ground floor and another 20,000-litre capacity tank on the terrace were not provided,” officials explained. They said firemen had to carry out fire-fighting operation from only one side due to lack of open space all around the building.
Another mistake of the management was not ensuring expert supervision in the lab. “Our enquiries revealed that only casual workers were present at the time of explosion,” said District Fire Officer, P.V. Ramana. Senior officials recalled that a proposal for separate fire stations in all the 11 industrial areas was pending with Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation.
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