One in five schools have no fire safety: Fire dept

“At least 20 per cent of the schools in the city, mostly the ones run by the government or municipal corporations, have failed to fulfill the safety requirements due to which they do not possess the fire safety clearance certificate at present,” said Director of Delhi Fire Services AK Sharma.

Sources in the Delhi Fire Services said the department is likely to prepare a list of schools that have failed to fulfill the safety requirements, despite being intimated several times  and will soon issue notices to them.

In case of some schools, the safety clearances are pending for two years or even more than that, they said.

Many of them had assured that they would get the changes done by the end of this year’s summer vacations. On the basis of which the fire department anticipated a clearance rate of anything between 85 to 90 per cent by the end of this year. However, things did not turn up as expected, the sources said.

According to director (press and information) for North and East Municipal Corporations YS Mann, many schools under the jurisdiction of the two corporations have fulfilled the fire safety requirements in consultation with the engineers’ department. “For others, they are trying their best to get periodic fire clearances as early as possible,” the official said. 

He added that some of those buildings, especially the ones in and around Old Delhi, are quite old. “Despite renovation, they have failed to fulfill the safety requirements for certain inches in several aspects,” Mann said. Of the nearly 340 schools that come under the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), over 300 have procured the clearance certificate, the civic body’s director (press and information) Mukesh Yadav said.

“For the ones that don’t, measures are being taken to procure fire clearance at the earliest,” he added.

No senior official at the Directorate of Education under the Government of NCT of Delhi could be reached for comments.

According to the new provisions incorporated into the Delhi Fire Service Act and Rules during the Commonwealth Games (and implemented from January 1, 2011), schools, hospitals, offices, factories and other commercial buildings have to get fire safety clearance done in every three years. For residential buildings above 15 metres high, the process is to be repeated in five years.

Rules applicable for school premises include provision of two doors for every classroom in which population exceeds 45, a fire safety system that includes a manual or automated smoke-detecting alarm and a tank pump, ample number of sand buckets, a hose pipe network for buildings beyond two floors, and sprinklers if the building has a basement measuring more than 200 square metres.

A minimum six-metre gap from boundary walls on all four sides is also needed to be provided, a senior official of Delhi Fire Services said.

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