Thursday, August 23, 2007

The fire in the PNSC building (the second one in less than a year) should make the authorities sit up and enforce fire safety standards in the thousands of multi-storied buildings which are virtual death traps. Until recently most fires were caused by short circuits. But now another hazard has been added: the use of petrol generators by most flat dwellers to provide electricity during power outages. Not only does their use result in intense air pollution affecting the health of everyone living nearby, in case a generator catches fire it can quickly spread to the other floors and since the buildings do not have fire escapes, one can imagine the mayhem that will be caused by residents trying to escape down the only staircase available. A major disaster will occur any day if the authorities don't take concrete action. To begin with, all buildings should have effective fire extinguishing cylinders on every floor. Secondly, the KESC itself should be made to provide sealed circuit breakers which will discontinue power supply if the consumer uses more than the sanctioned load. And finally, the KBCA should not give a completion certificate to any building which does not have a fire escape.

Shakir Lakhani