Odisha tops toll list in fire accidents

Bhubaneswar, Aug 15 (IANS) Fire safety arrangements continue to be poor in a majority of commercial establishments in Odisha, leading to the death of 40 people in 2014, according to official statistics.

The state recorded the highest number of deaths due to fire in commercial buildings out of 149 cases across the country in 2014, according to the statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

The 40 dead comprise 31 men and nine women.

According to rules, commercial buildings must obtain a fire safety clearance certificate from the Fire Prevention Wing of the office of the Directorate General, Fire Service before starting operations.

However, many commercial establishments do not get clearance certificates due to the allegedly lackadaisical attitude of planning authorities.

“It is the duty of the planning bodies to send proposals for fire safety clearances to us. Our officials inspect the measures by visiting the establishments. But in several cases, the planning bodies do not refer to us for clearance,” M. Nageswar Rao, additional director general of police (ADGP) Fire Services, told IANS.

Usually, when a proposal of a commercial establishment goes for approval to the ultimate approving authority, it passes through the civil engineer, structural engineer, electrical engineer, public health engineer and then comes to the fire office for approval.

Notwithstanding that, households — and not commercial establishments or factories — contributed to the majority of fire accidents in Odisha last year, going by the statistics.

The data compiled by NCRB shows that 712 people died in fires in 2014, and blazes at residential buildings were responsible for 140 deaths.

“In residences and commercial establishments, the main reason for fires is short circuit. This happens due to the carelessness of people who often forget to switch off electrical appliances,” said a fire service official.

In contrast, only four lives were lost in fires at cracker and match factories.

A total of 127 people died due to short circuit, while 83 lives were lost in cooking gas cylinder and stove explosions, said the data.

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