Vulnerable high-rises: CDA fails to implement fire safety regulations

Building owners defy warnings issued to them to adhere to the by-laws.

Danish Hussain April 21, 2013
CDA fire bylaws bind the owners of high-rise buildings to take all possible measures including installing sprinkler systems in combination with heat and smoke detectors. PHOTO: FILE.


The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has failed to implement the Fire Prevention and Life Safety Regulations 2010 in letter and spirit. The owners of vulnerable buildings, who were served notices to submit compliance reports with the authority, have yet  to acquiesce to the warnings, despite a lapse of more than two years.

A senior CDA official requesting anonymity said that after adopting the regulations, the owners of buildings constructed before 2010 were served notices to install all required equipment within six-months, but not a single building owner has submitted a compliance report.

At the same time, he claimed that buildings constructed after 2010, have at least partially adhered to the CDA fire safety guidelines.

Meanwhile, in 2012 the authority carried out a fire audit of almost all high-rise buildings in the capital’s business hub, Blue Area, and found around 95 per cent of the buildings were vulnerable to fire incidents as no adequate firefighting arrangements were in place.

But, the findings were put on the back burner by the civic body, as no more fire audits were carried out and no action was taken against violators.

“Initially, notices were served on the owners of buildings in commercial areas to ensure fire audit of their properties, but nobody took enough interest to pursue the matter,” a senior official from the CDA Emergency and Disaster Management Directorate said.

He said that CDA fire bylaws bind the owners of high-rise buildings to take all possible measures including installing sprinkler systems in combination with heat and smoke detectors that can activate fire alarms.

Under that regulation, the Directorate of Emergency and Disaster Management has the powers to vacate or seal any building which violates the fire safety guidelines.

“Despite the powers and recurring fire incidents in high-rise buildings, especially in Blue Area, the authority has not sealed even a single such building,” the official said.

According to the Geological Survey of Pakistan, most multi-storey buildings in the federal capital lack fire detectors, emergency alarms, fire extinguishers, emergency exits, hydrants, parking spaces and compartmentalisation of buildings.

Under CDA bylaws, the regulations and standards have been divided into three clauses: fire prevention, life safety and fire protection.

The fire prevention covers the aspects pertaining to design and construction of buildings on passive fire protection measures, describing various types of building material and their fire safety rating.

The life safety provision deals with events of fire and similar emergencies, addressing construction and occupancy features that are necessary to minimise the danger to life from fire, smoke, fumes or panic, while the protection aspect relates to appurtenance, their related components and guidelines for selecting the correct types of equipment and installation.

CDA Spokesperson Malik Saleem Akhtar dispelled the impression that the CDA was lenient in implementing the regulations. However he also told The Express Tribune that the owners of high-rise buildings should cooperate with the CDA fire audit team to implement the regulations.

When asked if the CDA could forcibly implement its bylaws, Akhtar declined to answer and said the issue would be taken up with the concerned wing of the authority and sufficient steps will be taken to ensure implementation of its regulations.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2013.


Sabih Shad | 8 years ago | Reply

No fines for the violators?

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