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Don’t Let a Fire Raze Your Dreams, Stay Insured

Posted by - Sanjay Datta, Chief - Underwriting, Reinsurance & Claims
April 18 2018

Following a historic year of fire accidents, the citizenry of India is distressed. As many as 4,790 fire mishaps were reported over the past one year in the financial capital alone, which wrecked cinema studios, dilapidated buildings, plush restaurants and illegal structures.

While illegal constructions were razed to the ground, it is still rather unclear as to the authority that would enforce the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006. Improper implementation of fire safety rules, flouting fire safety norms, lack of deterrents against offenders, urban planning violations, and poor awareness among citizens has made the country vulnerable to such fire mishaps.

Urban India is equipped with the latest technology including intelligent fire detection systems, sprinkler systems, hydrant systems, gas suppression systems, leak detection systems, mist systems, emergency lighting at evacuation routes and much more.

Yet even with such resources at our disposal, the resultant loss of life can only be attributed to the nonchalance of the authorities, the owners and the consumers. The onus of ensuring fire safety lies not only with the city’s administration and the government, but also with builders, architects, interior designers, individual owners of property and the end user of these facilities.

It is crucial for the commercial space owners to ensure the safety of their consumers, staff and the physical space. Thus, a no-objection certificate (NOC) is not enough for commercial entities to ensure safety. The need for a strategic evacuation plan has never been more imperative.

Strategic evacuation plans must inculcate an evacuation route, trained staff to deal with fire emergencies, evacuation routes marked by fluorescent strips and emergency exits that are never allowed to be locked.

After the recent fire incidents, various restaurants in Mumbai have started erecting displays outside their restaurants claiming to be ‘Fire compliant’. There are a set of parameters and guidelines in place for fire compliance which ought to be reviewed on a monthly basis, to ensure complete compliance.

There exists a dominant need for commercial spaces to position themselves as safety compliant platforms. As end consumers one must be cautious and aware about such crisis control activities. Unfortunately, as consumers we barely attribute any significance to fire drills. Fire drills are vital for practicing fire safety at workplace; however, a significant part of the population views it as a hindrance since it causes a complete halt of daily operations for a few minutes.

They often overlook the underlying value of fire drills, which also leads to ignorance revolving around fire accidents. Therefore, the attitude needs to undergo a massive sea change. In a situation where one encounters smoke during evacuation, the safest protocol is to stay low to the floor and keep your mouth and nose covered by a wet cloth.

In case of any fire-related emergency, it is imperative to evacuate, irrespective of how trivial the consequence may be.

Consumers should never use elevators when there is a fire emergency. Highrise residential apartments are now equipped with public open air terraces, such that even if one cannot evacuate from the high rise, they can however, take shelter in an area, where smoke cannot accumulate and cause damage to life.

Despite of all the precautions and safety measures adopted, one cannot fight with the intensity of a disaster completely and forest fire is the best example of this. Under such circumstances, you would go beyond that extra mile to ensure the safety and well being of your dear ones.

Hence, effective measures to minimise the damage caused by fire accidents can be adopted, as a mere foresight or long-term planning.

While lives lost can be reduced by being equipped with the know-how of a fire mishap; taking a fire insurance can provide you with the financial backing which becomes crucial when your property is damaged by accidents.

This policy is an indemnity contract and in the case of a fire accident, the insurance company is liable to the extent of actual loss suffered. Insurance firms appoint an independent surveyor duly licensed by the government to survey the loss and decide on the settlement amount of the loss on the basis of the claim bill and the surveyor’s report.

Therefore, even though it may appear to be a least likely event, it is imperative to have a fire insurance policy.

*Source: Money Guru India

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