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Fire brigade can now inspect eateries 24×7



MUMBAI: In a first, the fire brigade has been instructed to inspect city eateries also during the night for fire-safety violations. Till now, the fire brigade’s checks were conducted only during regular office hours-10.30am-5.30pm. The change was prompted by the December 29 Kamala Mills blaze, in which 14 persons died when fire broke out in the early hours in two rooftop resto-bars, which had flouted almost every fire-safety rule.
Because of a spate of blazes in recent months, a fire-safety inspection cell was started at the fire brigade. It is the duty of the cell, along with ward-level municipal staff, to inspect the city’s eateries. Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta has now directed this team to increase the ambit of their work, change their methods and resort to inspections at any time of the day.

A senior civic official, who was present at Mehta’s meeting with fire officers, said, “When the fire brigade mentioned that the law (Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006) authorizes them to enter and inspect establishments only between sunrise and sunset, the commissioner directed them to check what can be done so that appropriate checks can be carried out at eateries.”

Following the commissioner’s directive, the Act was referred to once again and fire officers found that Section 5 indeed allowed them to inspect a building at any time of the day if an “industry” was operational there or “entertainment” was being hosted.

“Therefore, we can start working on Mehta’s directive without waiting for any amendment to the law,” said a fire officer.

A civic official said fire-safety inspections are required even more during the night as that is when many establishments draw crowds to restaurants and bars. “In fact, several such businesses operate only after sundown,” he said.

Following Mehta’s directive, Chembur-based civic activist Rajkumar Sharma said what is necessary now is to make inspectors accountable. “Officials need to be made accountable if action is not taken against premises found with fire-safety violations. This would instill discipline and a sense of seriousness. Only then will inspections of eateries and other establishments be meaningful,” said Sharma.

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