Mumbai is yet not a ‘Fire-Free’ city despite the numerous incidents of fire breakouts and availability of firefighting systems, advisories, and rules. People in high-rise buildings risk their lives and assets with no certainty of rescue in the event of a fire.

The recent fire in R A Residency - a multi-storey residential building at Dadar, has brought to light the stark reality that Mumbai’s high-rise buildings lack fire evacuation and safety measures. The blaze erupted inside a closed flat on the 42nd floor of the 44-storey building. The fire, which was confined to the electric fittings in the affected flat, was doused after seven hours by the Mumbai Fire Brigade team.

It is worth noting that the firefighting system of the building was not functioning, neither was there a fire warning system in the building. This was the second consecutive fire incident in the metro city: a fire had earlier broken out in a 29-floor building in Andheri East, Mumbai. These fire incidents show how people in Mumbai are living with fear of fires breaking out and with no signs of immediate rescue and evacuation measures.

The recent fire in R A Residency

Fire-fighting officials opine that the Fire Evacuation Lift introduced in 2018 is one of the best options to fight fires more efficiently. The older buildings have Fire Escape Chutes as per the old norms, which can only be used to rescue people from the affected area, and not to reach higher floors. Fire Evacuation Lifts help fire brigade teams reach the upper floors along with their heavy equipment in time to douse a fire.

Says Dr. Vikram Mehta, Managing Director, Spartan, “Time is of the essence when fighting fires. A few minutes can be all that stands between controllable flames and an out-of-control blaze. We could have saved the time and energy of the fire brigade team, who have to carry heavy kits required to douse the fire on their body. It’s not right for people staying in high-rise buildings to go through such hazardous situations without any safety. These are major concerns that builders and developers should take seriously. A fire evacuation lift is now mandatory for new buildings with heights of 70+ meters to get an NOC from the authorities.”

However, according to Dr. Deepak Monga, Fire Safety and Evacuation Expert, though every high-rise building has to install fire evacuation lifts as per the advisory, not all builders are complying with this rule. “In the R A Residency Tower fire accident, there were no casualties, but the building suffered a lot of damages. We need to take preventive measures and every apartment buyer should be trained to use the Fire Fighting System and the Fire Evacuation Lift.”

As of now, around 33 Fire Evacuation Lifts have been installed in Maharashtra, and around 50 Fire Evacuation Lift projects are under process.