New Delhi: Casualties worse than the death of 20 children at a coaching centre in Surat could hit Delhi if there were to be an incident of accidental fire at some spots of the capital city. Most of the coaching centres do not have adequate fire protection arrangements.
Not only this, the entries and exits are too narrow for a quick escape. If an emergency evacuation is needed, the stairs are not wide enough for two people to descend side by side. Students will find it very difficult to escape a raging fire, especially at the private coaching centres at Laxmi Nagar of Delhi.
Fire safety at Laxmi Nagar, Delhi
CA-CS Coaching Centre
This coaching centre has been running since 1997. The staff of the institute inform visitors that five batches run here. In every batch, there are about 100 students while the size of a classroom cannot accommodate more than 60 or 70 children.
The exhaust fan for ventilation looks inadequate, given the structure of the room and the darkness inside. There are many ACs inside the classroom. To deal with an emergency situation, there is no such device as a fire extinguisher, sprinkler’s wheel, hose reel, fire alarm or Emergency Alarm is found inside any classroom.
There is only a small gate for entry and exit at the classrooms that have no window. The width of the stairs would not permit two to three people rushing out together.
Electric wires dangle dangerously overhead in some places.
The narrow exit opens to a narrow lane of Laxmi Nagar.
CA Foundation Coaching Centre
This has been running for three years. You reach the reception of this institute after passing through a narrow lane and climbing up a flight of stairs. The staff of this institute say that only CA Foundation coaching is offered here. There are three batches of students, with each batch having 30 to 40 students.
While a larger classroom is given to a class of greater strength, there is no window for ventilation. The classrooms are well lit artificially but they have no fire-fighting devices here either. A receptionist would assure a visitor all emergency management tools exist, but she can’t show any.
Coaching Centre for CA and CS courses
The staff of this institute say that coaching is provided here in the morning as well as in the evening. It’s been running for about 19 years. A batch has 35 to 50 students.
This coaching centre is equipped with fire extinguishing cylinders, but no other fire-fighting tool. There are some CCTV cameras around.
The width of the stairs in the building is okay. The gate opens to a narrow lane. Fire tenders would find it impossible to reach here in the case of an emergency.
There are more than 100 equally ill-equipped coaching centres of the type in the stretch between Laxmi Nagar and Nirman Vihar. The fire department concedes that these private institutes cannot handle emergency situations like fire.
The students here are shockingly unaware of the safety issue.
Fire safety in Gurgaon
There are many famous coaching classes in Gurgaon, but their ability to deal with a situation of fire is questionable.
Institute of Learning Professional, Old DLF
It operates out of the first and second floor of a building. It has a narrow staircase. Apart from this, there is no other way to get in or exit. The classrooms have no window.
A counsellor at the institute, Manish said that the private institute has no fire NOC.
Institute for Engineering and Medical Sciences
With many branches across the country, it has two branches in Gurgaon. They boast of thousands of training students. This is a three-storey building.
Except for the ground floor, classes run everywhere in this building: basement, first and second floors. The building has no elevator. The stairs are too narrow. The corridor between the classrooms is narrow, too.
Only 4 fire extinguishers could be seen here. There are two emergency doors here, but the caretakers struggle to find their keys.
There is no window or ventilator in the classroom. The institute does not have a fire NOC. They claim they applied for it a month ago.
Fire safety in Noida
Hindi newspaper Navbharat Times has found that most coaching centres in this satellite township in Uttar Pradesh did not have a fire NOC. There are no automatic sprinklers at the Vidya Mandir Coaching Centre running at a rented building in Industrial Area, Sector 4.
The iron pipe for water supply is defunct. There is no ventilator to let the smoke out. There are no stairs to go to the roof. The stairs to enter the centre are on one side of the building.
The two-storey rooms encroach on land they don’t own.
The Paramount Coaching Centre at Sector 15, Naya Bans, has a flight of stairs on one side of the building that is locked. Water purifiers and ACs are kept on the other side. There is no ventilation or fire-fighting equipment at the centre.
The situation is equally bad at the Gurukul Institute and FIIT-JEE.
At Sector 18, there are some fire cylinders on display at the Akash Institute, Career Launcher and the Mahindra Coaching Institute. They don’t have sprinklers, water pipes, open areas either.
Most of the 23 coaching centres of the district do not have fire safety and fire-fighting equipment. The fire department has, however, taken some action after the incident in Surat.
FSO Sushil Yadav has sent a stern message to the owners of the coaching centres. He said after this checking exercise by the department, they have all reported the number of students, details of the building structures and fire safety resources at the disposal of these coaching centres. The report will be forwarded to the CFO.
The coaching centres running in Faridabad have no NOC from the fire brigade. The buildings do have fire NOCs, but separate NOCs required for the coaching centres have never been applied for in the first place.
The fire brigade pleads that they do not have the right to issue a notice to any centre. According to the rules of the Haryana Fire Services, not only do commercial buildings require fire-fighting systems but showrooms, coaching centres and other business facilities running in the premises must have a Part NOC each, too.