These statistics prove why fire safety in India is a joke

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India's fire safety norms are in shambles. The Union Home Ministry had stated in a report that there ought to be at least 8,500 fire stations in the country.

However across the country there are just 2,900 which goes on to show the pathetic state of affairs and the lethargy of the governments in introducing fire safety norms. [Kerala temple fire: PESO report shows 7 major violations]


Every year there are several seminars and meetings conducted at the state government level to ensure that fire safety is taken seriously. [Temple fireworks mishap: 13 persons arrested]

While the governments are to be blamed for not coming out with more fire stations, it must be noted that in most cases where accidents in public places have been caused due to fire, the authorities have not obtained a no-objection certificate from the fire department.

The Puttingal temple case in Kerala is a classic example of this.

Ill-equipped, lack of funds:

Fire is a state subject and it has been included as a municipal function under the XIIth Schedule of Indian Constitution in terms of the Article 243-W. Several studies have found that many states have not provided enough resources to fire safety. There have been complaints of lack of funds or the staff in the fire departments being ill-equipped. [Kerala HC bans high decibel firecrackers at night]

Most of the states do have fire stations. However the lack of equipment is one major concern. The lack of turn table ladders, crash tenders and rescue vehicles are clearly missing in many of the fire stations across the country.

The manpower shortage is another problem. There is a shortage of firemen of at least 96.28 per cent according to the National Disaster Response Force and Civil Defence which is part of the Ministry for Home Affairs. Urban fire services suffer a deficiencies of 72.75% in fire stations, 78.79% in man power and 22.43% in fire fighting and rescue vehicles the department also states.

Further the NDRFCD also states that in 144 towns having population more than one lakh, there is huge deficiency of fire fighting infrastructure in these cities alone. Fire Service need 1257 fire stations, 2230 Water Tenders, 61 Rescue Tenders, 1633 Ambulances, 1633 Extra Heavy Water Tenders more to bring adequate fire fighting facilities as per norms fixed by Standing Fire Advisory Council (SFAC) .

Flouting the norms:

While it may be difficult to ban firecrackers entirely, one must also take note of the fact that norms are usually flouted. There is a ban imposed by the Supreme Court of India on bursting crackers after 10 PM. However at the Puttingal temple the firecracker show took place at 3 AM clearly in violation of the Supreme Court order. [Kollam temple fire: Banned chemical potassium chlorate used in fireworks]

Further it has been found that in most cases the authorities do not take the permission of the fire department before bursting crackers in crowded places where several 1,000 people gather. A no-objection certificate is a must from the fire department, but in nine out of ten cases it is not sought.

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