Following recurring fire incidents in the city coupled with the difficulty arising in firefighting and resuce operations due to box grills, Mumbai fire chief, Hemant Parab, has appealed to the citizens to maintain grilled windows for their houses only if it is openable and has a lock which can be broken during a fire evacuation. He has also requested the society chairmans to make sure the watchmen of their societies are sent for fire safety training to their nearest fire station.
Explaining the reason for preferring openable grills in place of their box counterparts, Parab said, “There are so many times when we have to go for a rescue operation and it becomes difficult for us because of the box grilled windows. The flames are huge and people are trapped in the corner rooms of the house as there is only one exit which is through the front door. But if the windows are open and are without grills or a lock then it’s easier to carry out the rescue operation and save as many people as we possibly can.”
Asserting upon the importance of fire safety training, he pointed out that fire safety equipment like fire extinguishers are installed at most societies and complexes, but the knowledge of using it is usually not known to many. “These societies should make sure that the watchman and some volunteers of the society are trained by the Mumbai Fire brigade team at their nearest fire station. The citizens should also get themselves trained about self-rescue and basic fire safety techniques which can help a lot during actual fire incidents,” added Parab.
Though agreeing with Parab’s argument, President of Khar residents association, Anandini Thakoor, said, “Lots of robberies are taking place and grills cannot be completely avoided. It is meant for the safety of the citizens. But, yes, during a fire we can’t only depend on one exit so grills with locks can be installed at the housing societies and other buildings. Even my own building has grills but it will soon go for redevelopment and I will make sure that the grills have a lock system which will help during a fire.”
Similarly, Malad resident, Suraj Kelkar, said, “Box grills on windows do cause fire safety issues but the problem is we can’t ignore the risk of burglaries. All window panes, and sliding windows are a piece of cake for burglars. I think maybe even the locked grills can be unlocked by the burglars. So I’m not sure what the solution could be, but this is a catch-22 situation.”
Khusbu Pandey, a resident of Colaba said, “These box grills have not only spoiled the beauty of the city but have also proved to be a safety hazard. They are meant to prevent theft but can end up being fire traps, and take lives. Maybe the grills in high rises can be avoided and 4-foot railings can be installed to prevent accidental fall.”