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Now, low-rise buildings too face fire test
Henceforth, owners of nonhigh-rise buildings (structures between 10 and 15 metres height) would have to obtain a licence from the AP State Disaster Response and Fire Services department for their property. However, for the licence, property-owners have to pay a fee after providing fire-fighting equipment on their premises.
Until now, the fire services department had been focusing only on buildings above 15m in height, especially commercial complexes, hotels, hospitals and theatres. Since several fire accidents have been reported in non-high-rise buildings, the department has decided to pay attention to these structures as well. Officials said 12 major fire mishaps had occurred in May and June in Hyderabad alone.
“Recent fire accidents indicate how non-high-rises are equally fire prone. The owners of such buildings take no precautions against fire as they do not fall under the high-rise category. Now, the department has decided to inspect all buildings above 10m to insist on a minimum availability of fire-fighting equipment as per the National Building Code,” K Jayaram Naik, the fire services department additional director, told TOI.
The department has been implementing section 13 of the AP Fire and Emergency Operations Rules, 2006 which talks about MSBs and the issue of No Objection Certificate upon installation of fire safety equipment. The department would now implement section 14 and 15 of the rules, which deal with preventive measures against fire, especially for buildings between 10m and 15m in height. Under this section, the fire services department has powers to seal or close premises which have failed to follow norms.
According to official estimates, over 50,000 buildings would have to obtain licences from the department once the new norms are enforced. Non-high-rise buildings are broadly divided into four categories. In the first category come non-AC cinema halls, restaurants and hotels with seating capacity of between 30 and 100 seats, exhibition halls, and venues of industrial, entertainment and political meetings, all of which need to pay Rs 500 towards licence fees.
All clubs, residential schools, colleges with 100 to 1,000 inmates, lodgings of 50 rooms and above, software firms with more than 20 computers, laboratories and research institutes, all come under second category, which have to pay Rs 1,000 as licence fee. All stadia, cold storages, film studios, firecracker manufacturing units, major automobile showrooms, residential schools, garments and textile manufacturing units have been listed in the third category and they have to pay a fee of Rs 2,500.
Multi-specialty hospitals, all star hotels, distilleries and breweries, power generation units, petroleum refineries, multiplexes, large and medium scale industries would come under category four and they have to pay Rs 5,000 towards licence fees.
Under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) and other corporations, fire prevention wings, which have already been set up, would collect the licence fee> As for the rest of the state, it is the fire services department which would collect the licence fees from property-owners and builders.
The officers will inspect the buildings before offering the licence which would be valid for three years. “The gazette notification for collecting the licence fee from owners of non-high-rise building will be issued by the government later this week,” Naik said.
Source: The Times of India, Hyderabad