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CDA now can enforce fire safety

ISLAMABAD, Feb 17: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Thursday got powers to ensure that Islamabad’s residential, commercial and high-rise buildings have adopted measures and installed equipment against fire outbreak.

The government has formally notified the “CDA Building Standards for Fire Prevention & Life Safety 2010” and “The Islamabad Fire Prevention & Life Safety Regulations 2010”. The rules are to “improve and regulate the process to prevent and mitigate effects of disasters and emergencies, especially in case of fire blasts…to better protect life and property of the capital’s citizens,” the document said.

Ahsan Ali Mangi, CDA’s director Emergency and Disaster Management, on Thursday told a meeting that following the printing of new regulations in the official gazette, all owners of existing buildings are now legally bound to take measures and install the required equipments within six months. The meeting was attended by CDA Chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi and senior officials.

The building standards have been divided into three parts – prevention, safety and protection. Though the regulations promise to “avoid unnecessary inconvenience with normal use of buildings”, they insist upon “compliance with minimum standard for fire prevention and life safety”. Prevention covers the design and construction of buildings on passive fire protection measures, describing various types of building material and their fire rating. Safety addresses construction and occupancy features necessary to minimise danger from fire. Protection relates to guidelines for selecting correct firefighting equipments and their installation.

Analysts believe Islamabad has taken a step forward by approving the municipal bylaws to provide emergency exit and installation of firefighting gadgets in residential and private buildings.

Under the regulations, the CDA’s Directorate of Emergency and Disaster Management has been empowered to survey public and private buildings to ensure precautionary measures in them. After inspecting a building or premises, the authority can issue notice to the owner or occupier to take safety measures.

The CDA will also have powers to get vacated or seal any building or impose fine up to Rs500,000 if it finds any violation of fire prevention and safety regulations.

Now those constructing new buildings in the capital will have to take clearance about fire prevention and life safety measures from the emergency directorate – both at the time of approval of building plan and the issuance of the completion certificate by the authority.

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