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BAF assess flats to check safety measures to fight fire

Is the delight you feel about having a balcony with a panoramic view often marred by thoughts of fire hazards in your highrise complex? Well, residents of 70 apartment complexes in the city have put the worry past them, after conducting fire risk assessments in the premises.

The apartments, part of the 400-member strong Bangalore Apartments’ Federation (BAF), have been conducting the exercise along with other organisations such as Beyond Carlton, JAIN deemed-to-be university and When-It-Strikes Crisis Management.

“We created a checklist of around 35 aspects that reflect how well-prepared an apartment is for a fire accident,” BAF general secretary Srikanth Narasimhan said. “These include simple aspects that are often forgotten, such as presence of fire hydrants and sprinklers, or if there are any combustible material in storerooms, etc. The assessment is done either by When-It-Strikes, which has experience in the field of providing training for emergency response, or by students of Jain, who were trained by Beyond Carlton,” Narasimhan added. The exercise, launched in February, is conducted on weekends by groups of two to three people, who cover three apartment complexes in one day.

Ten engineering students have been trained for the purpose by Beyond Carlton, an organisation formed to address fire safety issues by family members of victims of Carlton Towers fire accident, that claimed nine lives and left 60 injured in 2010.

The free exercise also aims to look at the obvious aspects that are often overlooked by residents and apartment management committees, according to Subash Panicker, cluster president of BAF in North Bengaluru.

“People know that in case of a fire, staircases have to be used and not lifts. However, in many apartments, the staircases are blocked by articles belonging to residents. This affects the escape mechanism,” Panicker said.

“Those living on the upper floors would need to go to the terrace to get rescued by the fire engines in case the lower floors get engulfed. In several apartments, the terrace doors are kept locked,” added Panicker, who is also the president of Sobha Chrysanthemum Apartment Association in Thanisandra. “The point of this exercise is to remain aware and alert. We should not take any factors for granted, since they may help us stay prepared for fire accidents, which cannot be prevented entirely.”

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