Watch: How Fire Compliant is Mumbai? The Quint Investigates

People often say “Mumbai is LIT!” But that statement is more true literally than metaphorically.

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People often say “Mumbai is LIT!” But that statement is more true literally than metaphorically. The visibly cramped city always seems to be catching fire. Always!

Since 2008, there have been 48,000 fires in the city! Since 2012, this number stands at 29,000 in which 300 have died.

Last year alone saw 4,790 fires in which 30 died. That’s an average of 13 fires a day! Now, let’s talk about this year. Just in the first half, there have been over 700 reports of fire breaking out. Until August 2018, there were 13 major cases of fire which killed 26 people.

Logic then says that people living in this tinderbox of a city would be increasingly cautious about following fire safety norms. And that state officials would be as strict about ensuring these norms are adhered to.

The Quint conducted a spot-check at three different locations in the city– Heera Panna Market, Raghuvanshi Mills and Maru Hospital– to answer the burning question: what has Mumbai learnt from its flaming past? How ready is it to fight what seems like another fire just waiting to happen?

Each place The Quint visited was checked for adherence to the following basic fire safety measures as decreed by the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Rules, 2009:

  • Fire extinguishers and sand buckets at prominent places
  • Hose reels, wet risers, sprinkler systems
  • Smoke/Fire Alarms
  • Indicators for alarms and extinguishers
  • Wide enough access road
  • Wide enough staircases
  • Separate Fire Exits
  • No old hanging wires, cluttered entry/exit points

What came to light proved only thing: that the city just cannot keep pace with the development and demand that comes with its ever-increasing population. If we lived in a word where licenses were given to establishments based on fixed non-negotiable parameters, these places would not be allowed to function without some major changes. But flourish they do.

And thousands of places like these three continue to exist in Mumbai. Until the next fire, the next demolition drive, the next blame game...Until public memory fades, and we’re back to square one.

(Note: The Quint reached out to Maru Hospital via phone to ask follow-up questions about the visible lack of fire-safety measures, but received no response.)

Editor: Ashish MacCune
Producer: Divya Talwar

(This story has been reposted. It was originally published on 7 October 2018.)

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