90% coaching centres in Kota lack fire safety arrangements: Audit

An audit of the fire safety department of Kota has found that barring half a dozen big coaching institutes, 90% buildings of coaching centres and hostels have inadequate fire safety arrangements.

After the deadly Surat coaching centre blaze in which at least 20 students were killed, either due to suffocation or falling off the windows in an attempt to escape fire, questions are being raised about the safety of coaching institutes in the country.

Kota has more than 40 big and small coaching institutes and around 1500 hostels but buildings of most of such centres lack due fire safety arrangements, said Gautam Lal, chief fire officer of the Kota Municipal Corporation.

While there has not been any incident of fire in a coaching institute in Kota but around two dozen incidents of fire have occurred in hostels in the last one year.

Fire safety department officials confirmed that there are half a dozen big coaching institutes in Kota which are maintaining fire safety arrangements.

Gautam Lal said there is no fire safety act in Rajasthan and fire safety audits are done as per the National Building Code (NBC).

“In March this year a fire safety audit of 605 high-rises was done. More than half of the buildings were of coaching institutes and hostels while the rest were residential apartments, hospitals, schools, warehouses, commercial complex and shopping malls,” Lal said.

“Fire safety audit found that, except big coaching institutes, 90% of such 605 buildings either lacked fire safety arrangements or if safety systems exist, they were not properly functioning as per the norms of NBC.”

He said each building of more than 15 metre height must have fire safety arrangements, including a hydrant system, portable fire extinguishers, sprinkler system for basement, hose reel, water pump, overhead and underground water tank, fire safety alarm and sand buckets.

“Buildings below 15 metre should have fire extinguishers, sand buckets, hose reel and fire alarm system but such fire safety systems were not properly functioning in around 90% buildings,” he said. “Almost all big coaching institutes have fire safety system in place but smaller coaching institutes or tuition centres were found to be lacking proper fire safety system, such as emergency fire exit and fire staircase.”

Lal said fresh fire safety audits will be done. Notices have been served to 400 such building owners for installation of fire safety systems and action will be taken against defaulters.

Lal said there are 3 fire stations of KMC which have 18 fire tenders, a hydraulic ladder, nets and around 125 staff.

Asked about fire safety in hostels, Kota Hostel Association president Naveen Mittal said there is no awareness about safety due to which there are no connections for hose reel or hydrants but all hostels have portable fire extinguishers. “After Surat fire, we have asked hostels to install hose reel and hydrants for averting fire,” Mittal said.

Managing director, Resonance Eduventures Pvt Ltd , RK Verma said, “Fire safety system is maintained professionally in our institute for which vigilance teams keep tab on fire safety. The institute has taken required NOC from the fire safety department.”

Meanwhile, the fire safety department on Saturday carried out mock drills for fire safety at a coaching institute, hospital, shopping mall and some hostels in Kota.

First Published:
May 26, 2019 07:46 IST

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