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Manpower crunch stalls fire safety inspection of eateries



PUNE: The survey of hotels and eateries initiated by the civic administration’s fire department to check firefighting provisions has been stopped for now due to staff crunch.
A source said the survey was conducted for 15 days. It wasn’t possible to continue with the limited manpower, he said. The survey was started in January after the Kamla Mills fire in Mumbai on December 30, 2017, in which 14 people lost lives. Soon after the fire, the municipal commissioner had told the fire department to inspect the hotels and eateries.

Prashant Ranpise, the head of PMC’s fire department, said about 500 eateries and hotels were inspected during the survey. “It was an extensive drive. We deployed eight officers and some staffers. The officers had to keep their daily duties aside to conduct the inspection, considering the importance of the issue. But the survey could not continue further because the department cannot keep conducting the survey only,” he said.

Officials in the fire department stressed the survey was a time consuming job because an officer had to check provisions for fire safety such as extinguishers, fire exits and certificate obtained from authorized agencies.

A source said there were four to five times more hotels and eateries than those inspected in the city.

A civic official said, “It is important to survey the establishments because not every hotel would be equipped with firefighting provisions, nor all the employees trained to deal with them. The notices sent by the fire department are significant because they tell the establishments to meet the required safety measures and submit a report,” the official said..

Deputy mayor Siddharth Dhende said strict instructions were issued to initiate action against illegal hotels and restaurants being operated on terraces, rooftop and passages of buildings following the Mumbai fire. Drives were conducted in areas like Koregaon Park, Bavdhan, Baner and Balewadi as these were vulnerable areas for such activities. The administration would be told to conduct similar drives in the next few days, Dhende said.

Sources in the fire department expressed the need to increase the manpower, especially after the extension of PMC boundaries following the merger of 11 villages.

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