Lakshmi Patel, Ahmedabad: The fire in a tuition class in Surat which ended up killing several children has still not got the authorities to act against schools that lack fire safety.
Several schools in the city continue to function without a fire NOC and have structures that are incompatible as per fire safety rules.
Take for example the Gyandeep School in Ranip which has just one staircase that acts as both entry and exit. The school lacks a fire NOC because the structure is not compatible with fire safety (with no separate exit in case of fire) but the school continues to function.
What is interesting is that such schools are allowed to function despite several fire incidents in the city where lack of fire safety ended up killing many innocents in several different incidents.
The school had sought a NOC from the fire department which did not issue one because it lacked adequate measures for safety in case of a fire.
Sources who inspected the school said that there is only one entry and exit point to gain access to the classrooms. In case of fire, this is the sole entry and exit point which means the children’s lives will be put to risk.
What is interesting is that schools that put up a strong fight to oppose the decrease in fee after classes went online have not shown any inclination to put in place safety measures to ensure that children’s lives are not put at risk during a fire.
The schools continue to function without a NOC despite several reminders. Gyandeep School, sources said, was not given a fire NOC since it first began functioning. Moreover, an iron staircase is what takes students to their class which is on the first floor of a building.
Why Gyandeep School was not given a fire NOC?
Ahmedabad Fire Brigade sources said that in the absence of separate entry and exit points, the children will be at risk in case of a fire. This is also the reason why the fire brigade has not issued a NOC for the school.
The fire brigade officials have said that the school will have to ensure that there are separate entry and exit points. Apart from it, they will have to ensure fire safety equipment in the school to help douse the fire in case of any untoward incident.
The school has been asked to ensure that the fire safety equipment is maintained well and a fire NOC renewed every year.
What officials said about Gyandeep School
Hiralal Chavda, Joint Education Director, said that he was not ‘on-field’ for the last decade and hence he needs to talk to the DEO to check on the matter.
RR Vyas, DEO (rural) said that as a rule when a school lacks fire safety the department issues notice to the school to ensure that it is put in place.
In case the structure is such that all norms for fire safety cannot be followed we issue a notice to cancel the recognition of the school, Vyas said.
“You have brought to our notice the issue of lack of fire safety at Gyandeep School and I will get it checked and take appropriate action,” said Vyas.
Chief fire officer of Ahmedabad Fire Brigade MF Dastoor could not be contacted for his comments.
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