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Lacunae in fire safety preparedness of Devaraja Market identified


Jan. 14, 2020

Audit asks MCC to construct an underground tank of 2 lakh litre capacity
The over a century-old Devaraja Market, whose fate is swinging between demands for restoration from heritage conservationists to calls for its reconstruction from structural engineers, is also staring at lacunae in its fire safety preparedness.
A fire safety audit carried out by the State’s Fire and Emergency Services recently asked the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC), under whose purview the market falls, to comply with a series of recommendations that include the construction of a underground water tank with a capacity of 2 lakh litres on the premises. The Mysuru District Fire Officer visited the market on December 28, 2019, for an audit and submitted a report on fire prevention, fighting and evacuation measures considered ‘absolutely essential’ for the market.
The market, which houses more than 1,000 shops and stalls, is spread across 15,383 sq.m. and has a total built-up area of 5,380 sq.m. including 603 on the first floor. A portion, where a variety of combustible and inflammable items are stored, often reports fires such as the one in August 2019. Department officials had attributed this fire to a short-circuit among other reasons.
After the audit, authorities have been asked to not only construct a large underground 2 lakh litre water tank, but also keep fire extinguishers for every 100 sq.m. of built-up area, a first aid hose reel 30 m long near each staircase, with delivery hose pipes, etc.
The Fire Safety recommendations on December 30, 2019, also include an electric driven pump and one diesel driven pump near the underground tank, each capable of delivering 1,620 litres of water per minute and a diesel generator for alternative power supply to all emergency provisions of the whole building.
The Chief Fire Officer also asked authorities to mark on the corridor in luminous paint the directions in which occupants of the building and public have to move in the event of any emergency. They have also been asked to put up notice boards with directions on action to be taken in the case of emergency and the phone number of nearest fire station, 101, and ambulance service.
The audit found the market complying with safety requirements like accessibility to the premises, number of entrances and width of entrances. “Even if the authorities provide most of the equipment, where is the space to construct the underground tank,” asked S.P. Thirumala Rao, Karnataka Consumers’ Forum, on whose application under RTI for details of fire safety requirements the audit was carried out. Keeping safetyin mind, the authorities should either reconstruct the market or retain it as a heritage building of ornamental value, said Dr Rao.
The Chief Fire Officer, who has given a fire safety recommendation certificate for Devaraja Market for only one year from December 30, 2019, said the recommendations had to be complied with mandatorily.
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