Fire and Emergency Preparedness

Dr Asangba Tzudir

Going by statistics, it is reported that Nagaland loses Rs 1.04 cr every month due to fire disaster. While the loss is heavy it is heartening to see the inadequacy of just 21 fire stations in the state and that it is yet to reach the required 48 fire stations as per the technical survey conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, based on the topographical, demographic aspects, population and administrative set up of the state.

In the last few years incidences of fire especially in Dimapur have been on the rise and the presence of the adequate number of fire stations is imperative, so that in case of fire emergencies, fire brigade can reach the place in quick time before maximum damage is caused. 

Due to rapid urbanization places like Dimapur and Kohima have become very congested and which only increases the degree of risk associated with fire. As such the role and responsibility of Fire Department is not simply about fire fighting, but more important is the ‘Prevention and Audit measures’ where fire department as the nodal department has to inspect buildings having more than 45 feet to ensure they are in accordance with provisions of fire safety and having certain coverage as specified in the National Building Code 2016 relating to administrative regulations, development control rules and general building requirements; fire safety requirements; stipulations regarding materials, structural design and construction etc.

Such safety measure should be strictly adhered to while constructing buildings. The Public Building Regulation (PBC) of India has specified a base distance between two structures ought to be equivalent to the level of the taller structure or 1.5 times the joined width of the structures whichever is more. The primary objective of such a specification is to guarantee the safety of building occupants in the event of a fire or other emergency. In the recent incident of fire that broke out in the secondhand cloth godown at Lakeview colony Dimapur, a major fire was averted miraculously or else the entire Lakeview colony stretching towards Burma Camp would have gone up in flames. One of the residential buildings next to the godown was not even three meters away, and along with the firefighters what the residents did in their own way averted a major fire related disaster.

There is need for adoption of precautionary and emergency disaster preparedness measures at every level starting with fire safety norms. However, nothing is more important than the life of the firefighters who risk their lives while fighting fire and saving goods and properties, more so lives. As such they need to be provided all the safety gears especially gas masks because they are not only for firefighting and dousing but also for the more risky component of ‘Search, Rescue and Evacuation’ process which requires proper safety gears. Such preparedness can reduce risks to life to a great extent. 

On the whole, disasters have been for a very long time mankind’s constant companion, and today, because of the way in which our towns are expanding and growing in an unregulated manner the risks and dangers associated with various disasters is only increasing.

(Dr Asangba Tzudir writes a weekly guest editorial for The Morung Express. Comments can be mailed to [email protected]