Fire safety measures in place, but not working

The Himalaya House had a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Fire department, but the 12 safety measures that are required for the NOC were not maintained, Delhi Fire Service Chief A K Sharma said.

A compromised "captive water storage for fire fighting" meant that rescue officers on Monday had to tap into water stored in adjacent buildings to douse the flames.

"The process was time-consuming as the pipes had to be extended," Sharma said.

There are at least 50 highrises in the Connaught Place area, and most have not maintained and updated their fire safety measures, officials said.

"Maintenance is of the highest importance. The Himalaya House witnessed three fires in the past. In most highrises, the safety measures exist, but they aren't maintained regularly," Sharma said.

The NOCs also have to be renewed every three years. "The Delhi Fire Services Act, 2010, which was implemented in 2011, requires commercial establishments to renew their NOCs within three years. The Act stresses that the onus lies on the owner of the building, who is also required to take an undertaking every year stating that all the fire safety arrangements in the building are in working condition. However, the owners do not renew their certificates," Sharma said.

Fire officials said the maximum penalty of Rs 50,000 is levied on defaulters who do not have fire safety measures in place.

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