Policy

Maharashtra issues licence to 60 cos for fire safety audits

Suresh P. Iyengar Mumbai | Updated on February 22, 2012

Move for strict enforcement of preventive measures

The Maharashtra government has issued licences to 60 fire protection companies to conduct safety audits at tall commercial and residential buildings in congested cities to avoid mishap of the sort that happened recently at AMRI Hospital in Kolkata.

Nitin Fire Protection Industries, FirePro Systems, UTC Fire and Security are among the corporate firms approved by the State government. About 30 companies have been shortlisted for Mumbai, while the rest will conduct audits in other parts of the State.

Penalty mulled

Mr Rahul Shah, Executive Director, Nitin Fire Protection, said the government plans to make an amendment to the present legislation by April to include provisions for stiff penalty on buildings that fail to adhere to the suggestions of safety audit companies.

“The government is contemplating to cut off electricity and water supply to buildings that fail to comply with our suggestions. Safety audits have to be conducted every six months,” he added.

Though the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006, makes it mandatory for all residential and commercial buildings to follow a series of fire safety norms, lack of manpower to monitor the implementation has been a major concern. Currently, fire services are empowered to impose a penalty of Rs 30,000 to 1 lakh or suggest imprisonment of erring building owners.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY

While the safety audits will be conducted free of cost, it opens up a business opportunity of Rs 2,500 crore through sale of fire-fighting equipment and intelligent fire alarm systems and annual maintenance contract, said Mr Shah. Of the 3.7 lakh tall buildings in Mumbai city, about 80 per cent do not have the wherewithal to fight fire mishaps.

The fire protection market is largely dominated by small unorganised players with region-specific presence. The fire-fighting equipment business in India is worth about Rs 15,000 crore with information technology and banking accounting for 30 per cent, manufacturing sector 30 per cent, petrochemicals 15 per cent, commercial establishments 10 per cent and others 15 per cent, as per industry estimates.

Centre's fiat

The Centre has directed State governments to conduct fire safety audit in all major hospitals, nursing homes and malls through the State department of fire and emergency services to ensure that the safety measures are put in place.

Demand for fire fighting solutions is also going up due to replacement needs of obsolete equipment and upgradation of the system to better technology. For instance, a fire extinguisher cylinder has to be replaced every five years.

Published on February 22, 2012

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