Conversion of commercial spaces into storage areas and illegal extensions rampant in the busy shopping centre
Illegal extensions and conversion of existing commercial spaces into storage areas are the major reasons for the recurring fire outbreaks in shopping complexes and godowns near S.M. Street in Kozhikode, according to a recent fire audit by the Fire and Rescue Services Department.
Wholesalers of plastic and rubber products and cloths are the major violators of fire safety norms, and most alterations are made without the knowledge of building owners or without securing permission from the corporation authorities.
In some commercial buildings, fire exits and parking slots were found converted into additional storage spaces. A few local traders use such spaces to dump waste too.
Shopping centres that were found most vulnerable to fire outbreaks were Oasis complex and Baby Mall, where one comes across a number of small shops with unmanageable storage of goods in limited spaces. Even the small alleys leading to the shopping centres are crammed with plastic products on display, which can trigger fire accidents.
“Since the COVID-19 outbreak, many shops had remained closed without maintenance. A few owners did not even bother to check electrical circuits for emergency repairs,” said a Fire Department official. He pointed out that the dumping spots inside the buildings were found to be emerging problem areas.
The Kozhikode Town police said smoke detectors and alarms were not functional in several shops. According to them, it was the vigil kept by local people and hard work by rescue forces that prevented major fire accidents at the busy commercial centre on many occasions.
Meanwhile, Revenue officials said stringent action would be recommended under the Disaster Management Act against violators of safety rules. They added that action had been taken against erring owners of eight commercial buildings earlier.
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