The blaze at a hardware store in Sadar Bazaar on Wednesday, made shopkeepers under scanner as none of the over 1,000 shops in Sadar Bazaar have a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the fire department. According to a senior fire department official, not even a single NOC has been issued till date because the structures in the market have a height of less than 15 metres and hence don’t fall under the ambit of the Fire Safety Act.
Fire officials said they received a call about the fire around 6.45pm on Wednesday and immediately sent a fire tender. “By the time the fire tender reached the spot, two shops were engulfed in flames. The flames kept getting reinforced as a lot of flammable materials, including boxes of paint and plywood, were kept inside one of the shops. We’re trying to find out the reason behind the fire,” said IS Kashyap, assistant divisional fire safety officer.
“Fire department personnel managed to control the blaze by around 1am and extinguished it around 4am. We managed to prevent it from spreading to adjoining shops,” he added.
Officials said fire tenders lost around 15-20 minutes in reaching the spot because of the market’s congested lanes. As roads leading to the spot were narrow, traffic from Rajiv Chowk moving towards Sohna Chowk was also diverted. Fire department personnel also faced problems due to overhead electric wires when they used a hydraulic ladder to douse the flames.
Asked on the fire safety measures being adopted at the market, Kashyap said: “We have strategically placed a fire tender from the Bhim Nagar fire brigade near the market. We have been trying to sensitise shopkeepers and ensure that they have fire extinguishers. We will provide training as well,” he said.
Vaibhav Gupta, a shopkeeper, said most shops in the market are more than 20 years old. “As most shops are on rent, we are not aware about fire NOCs. We always follow fire safety norms because the loss is our own in case of a fire,” he said.
Although the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram is conducting a trial to make the market vehicle-free, hundreds of two-wheelers are often parked haphazardly along the stretch, leading to congestion.