Friday, November 27, 2009

More Fireworks!!!

India is still not ready to fight fire at large scale

The pink city of India was engulfed by fire on October 29. Thanks to the fire that broke out at the Indian Oil fuel depot. This massive fire at IOC’s Sitapura unit killed more than eleven people (the death toll is expected to rise, as search for the bodies are still on!) and led to a direct loss of Rs 500 crore. Not only the factory but the nearby areas also felt the heat. The fire was so intense that even the fire-fighters were unable to reach the ground zero and limit the loss. So much so, that the temperature of the site and its vicinity rose by staggering 7 degree celcius. Horrifyingly, neither the IOC’s fire fighting system nor the state’s fire-fighters were able to minimise the blaze.

This incident is not one of its kinds but actually is in line with numerous similar incidents that occurred in the recent past. Fire outbreak is not any jaw-dropping phenomenon but is actually an annual affair. To put things into perspective: how can one forget fire that enveloped the Haldia Petro’s naphtha plant in July this year resulting to a loss of over Rs 300 crore! Last year, more than 2000 shops were reduced to ashes at a wholesale market (Nandram market) in Burrabazar, Kolkata. The fire lasted for nearly a week despite the efforts by 300 firefighters. Almost every year, Burrabazar witnesses similar fire events. In another incident, in July 2005, number of people died due to fire outbreak in Mumbai High. A devastating fire at the ONGC platform at Mumbai High destroyed the Bombay High North platform, which used to produce 80,000 barrels of oil every day - boils down to 1,27,17,600 litres of oils every day!! As per industry estimates the financial loss was upto the tune of Rs 35,000 crore. Beside these major incidents, numerous other fire hazards happen round the year. Be it a fire explosion at cracker factory or the infamous fire at a Kumbhakonam school (killing 75 children) or oil pipeline blast in Assam or similar other events. Most of the accidents that happen are a result of human error and ignorance. Thus, in spite of state-of-art fire fighting techniques, these bizarre incidents takes place every now and then across the length and breadth of the nation. To minimise losses due to fire hazards, we must ensure that population are kept well outside the vicinity of these units - especially outside the vicinity of oil related units. But then, above all we must ensure and put in place a highly and comprehensive (encircling all possible units/departments of a company) fire fighting system to reduce the probability of such human-error-based-fire-hazard! Furthering this initiative, government must make these laws mandatory and legally abiding as well. Other wise many more similar incidents will lead to many more unwanted fireworks!

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Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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