Mumbai: The investigation report into the January 22 fire at Tardeo’s Sachinam Heights (Kamala Building) which killed 9 residents, concluded that the cause of the fire remains unknown.
After the investigation, what emerged was that the doors to the conduits where the television and internet wires were connected had been left open on many floors of the 20-story building, leading to the rapid spread fire.
On the evening of January 22, City Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal ordered an independent investigation into the fire, to examine three aspects: the cause of the fire in consultation with the fire chief, the reasons for the spread of the fire causing the death of people, illegal additions/modifications to the building beyond approved plans, if any. The report of this commission of inquiry was submitted to the municipal commissioner last Thursday and made public on Wednesday.
The report suggested that a special cell be set up within the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB), which will be responsible for Form B submissions and check whether bi-annual fire audits are carried out in high-rise buildings. The report also suggested that firefighters should check whether all 1,443 high-rise buildings in the island city have submitted the latest Form-B, and send notices to buildings that have not made their fire audit.
Each establishment is mandated to carry out semi-annual fire audits by third party auditors incorporated with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), and is expected to submit the report of the audit (Form-B) to the Mumbai Fire Department.
The report corroborated the findings of the Mumbai Fire Department. He held residents of the building responsible for flouting fire safety rules. The building’s internal fire-fighting system was not operational at the time of the fire, the terrace was locked, while the areas of refuge were accessible and not encroached on, residents did not use them during the fire. The report said that the refuge area on the 8th floor of the building contained stored combustible waste, but this did not contribute to the fire.
In addition, the fire spread rapidly in the 1904 apartment due to interior carpentry work, wooden furniture and wall paneling, and interior modifications were made to the house by removing the wall of the food. The report suggested that BMC set up a committee to register interior decorators/designers who undertake such work on homes in high-rise buildings only, and make it compulsory for such work to be carried out on interior homes by such registered interior decorators/designers.
The report also suggested that private security companies hired by buildings should ensure their staff are trained in primary fire safety. Since 2 apartments on some floors were merged into one apartment, the position of the main door was changed, the report observed. In the case of apartment 1904, the distance between the inspection room door and the main door was less than 2 feet.
Residents of Sachinam Heights will not be permitted to reoccupy the building until a No Objection Certificate (NOC) is received from the fire department.