Only Two Games Stadiums have NOC on Fire Safety

By Rajeev Ranjan Dwivedi

New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS): Only two stadiums for the Commonwealth Games have got no-objection certificates (NOCs) from the fire department as work continues in the others. The fire safety drill too will not happen before next month, say officials.

While the Games venues will have in-built arrangements to fight any fire, the fire department says it will conduct safety drills only in September as the presence of security personnel and volunteers is needed besides the completion of stadiums.

"So far only two stadiums -- Chhatrasal and Thyagraj -- have been given NOCs. At the rest, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, two to three rounds of inspection have been done but final checks are yet to be done," Delhi Fire Service chief R.C. Sharma told IANS.

The Games will feature 17 disciplines to be held at six venue clusters and five standalone stadiums. While Thyagraj Stadium will see netball, the Chhatrasal Stadium will host athletes for training.

Asked whether the delay in completion of stadiums was an obstacle, Sharma said his department was ready for inspection even at the last moment. "We have not put any deadline. It is upto them to come to us for the certificate."

For the drills, the fire service will check the basic functioning of the systems in place in all the stadia.

Before the drill, there is one more task in hand for the fire service -- to train police personnel and volunteers on how to react and whom to contact in case of fire.

A fire department source said police have been told about fire safety training and asked to submit a list of staffers who are likely to attend the course.

"But so far we have not received anything from the police," the source added.

Delhi has a three-tier firefighting plan and about 600 reserved personnel for the Oct 3-14 Games when about 100,000 foreign visitors are expected to throng the capital.

The fire services director said as per the in-built fire safety arrangements, proper guidelines have already been given to the agencies at the construction stage.

With the deployment of 10-12 fire safety personnel in every stadium during the Games, the department may cancel the holidays of its staffers during the event.

This staff crunch may not have happened if about 1,200 new personnel had been recruited on time.

"The list of shortlisted people may come to us in September but they need at least six months of proper training. Had they been recruited earlier, they would have proved useful. Since things are not on track, we will ask our staff to take leave after the Games," Sharma said candidly.

For a change, the fire department personnel in the stadia will doff their traditional 'khaki' and instead wear dark coloured uniforms.

"Earlier, the plan was to provide them bright orange clothes. But now uniforms in dark colours will be provided with a fire department badge so as to differentiate them from police and paramilitary force," he added.

Besides the in-built fire safety system in each stadium, the department will also deploy rescue workers with fire-fighting equipment in a backpack. The last layer will involve standby mobile teams outside each stadium.

The firefighters will be equipped with secured wireless communication systems, Sharma said.


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