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Fire evacuation mantra for Ganesh festival, Mumbaikars should ensure fire risk free festival

By: Dr Vikram Mehta


Mumbai: As Mumbai is getting into the Ganesh festival mood with full glory and grandeur, the sudden fire break-out in a Highrise building in Byculla has hinted us about how vulnerable the city’s high-rise buildings are for fire and how such situations could suddenly arise during the festival time.

Hence, every alert citizen must ensure all precautions to avert fire risks during the festival, so that we all can enjoy the festival and seek blessings of our dear Bappa! The simple mantra for ensuring a safe and fire – free Ganesh festival and all ensuing festivities is ‘Fire Evacuation’. 

Particularly for those who live in Highrise buildings with 70-meters and above in heights across Maharashtra must know that they should remember this Mantra of ‘Fire Evacuation’ forever, as the Maharashtra Government has recently made installation of Fire Evacuation Lifts in such buildings mandatory and the residents can make their lives fire – risk free with the help of this specialised fire evacuation mechanism. 

Among many, the reasons like short – circuits in Pandals or at homes, have always posed higher fire risks. According to Mumbai Fire Brigade, about 70 per cent of fire incidents usually occur due to electrical short – circuits and during the Ganesh festival times, the risk is always higher. This scenario exposes the inabilities of the city’s residential buildings – and particularly the high-rises – to fight sudden fire situations. 

‘Evacuation’ is always the best arsenal in dealing with chronic fires. Considering the issue of safety, it is of utmost importance for high – rises and other buildings in the city to assess and set up adequate Fire Evacuation Systems before the tragedy happens.

For instance, if the fire catches up amid heavy rains, the issues such as waterlogging and traffic congestion worsen the firefighting and rescue operations, as the fire brigade officials struggle to reach the destination in time, which may endanger people’s precious lives and invaluable assets.

In drastic fires, the visibility almost becomes zero that creates constraints on the movement of firefighters in rescuing the people. It is thus critical to safely evacuate people when fire brigade officials are delayed due to heavy rains or traffic congestion or the factors like winds or smog hampering the firefighting operations.  

Many High Rises in the city do not have adequate Fire Evacuation Systems such as Fire Evacuation Lifts in place, even though the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and now, the Energy Department of Government of Maharashtra have made it mandatory for high-rise buildings 70 meters and above (21 floors and above) to install a Fire Evacuation Lift for the safety of people and the property. 

Hence, there is a dire need to implement the mandatory Circular at the earliest. It is equally important for the people living in such high – rises also to re-look at their fire evacuation needs and set up the right infrastructure. As compared to other Fire Evacuations System a Fire Evacuation Lift, provides a much better option and can be used seamlessly for evacuating people stranded inside the building.

It helps the firefighters reach higher floors faster and evacuate 10-18 people in less than three minutes at one time. It also enables the ‘Emergency Response Team’ (ERT) to reach even the 40th floor app. in a minute to extinguish the fire and save lives and assets. Such lifts always prove to be a boon, as these are designed with advanced technologies like IoT, a trap door for emergency exit, a cabin up of non-combustible material, side panels with ceramic wool with a two – hour fire rating, etc., provide a perfect exit to fire victims. 

Another advantage of the Fire Evacuation Lift is, it reaches faster at higher floors where it is difficult for the turntable ladders to reach. As every second is precious in firefighting, this lift is very useful for fire officers to reach the fire destination in real time. A Fire Evacuation Lift is saviour and hence, every high-rise building’s Existing Fire Safety System should be upgraded to a Fire Evacuation System to accommodate this vertical Fire Evacuation Lift and make this Ganesh festival memorable.

About the Author: Dr Vikram Mehta is India’s renowned production engineer and innovator in the Fire Evacuation field and construction equipment industry, he is fondly known as ‘Maharashtra’s Fire Man’ in the industry and recently has been conferred upon the prestigious ‘Saavali’ Puraskar (Award) at the hands of Governor, Maharashtra, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, He is an alumnus of Wharton University. 


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