Crackdown on Bengaluru bars, eateries over fire safety

Bengaluru, Jan 8 : The death of five employees in a bar-cum-restaurant blaze here on Monday stirred the civic body and police to crack down on all bars, pubs and eateries to ensure fire safety norms are followed, a top police official said.

“We have directed the BBMP and the police to inspect all bars, pubs, restaurants, hotels and eateries across the city to check for fire safety norms,” Karnataka Director General for Fire and Emergency Services M.N. Reddi told reporters here.

Reddi, who inspected the Kailash Bar and Restaurant where the fire broke out killing the five men trapped inside its compound and the Victoria Hospital, said prima facie the bar in the congested city centre had no fire extinguisher and did not follow the safety norms.

“The premises where the fire accident took place had no exit door, ventilation, exhaust fans or any escape route from behind,” said Reddi, an IPS rank officer.

Reddi, a former Bengaluru police chief, also said that preliminary inquiry revealed that the victims died due to asphyxia than severe burns as they suffocated to death due to lack of fresh air, ventilation and no exit point.

“The victims seem to have tried to escape from the dark premises but could not as they failed to break the iron grill windows. No fire precautionary measures were in place at the bar,” said Reddi.

Bars, pubs, restaurants and eateries across the city are required to follow safety norms by providing clearly marked exit doors in case of a fire along with fire fighting equipment, said Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy.

“The premises where the fire accident took place didn’t even have a fire extinguisher. The police will be inspecting all bars, restaurants and eateries,” he told reporters.

The rules laid down by the civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) state that public buildings should be provided with exits to allow safe escape of occupants in case of fire along with installation of alarm devices to alert people and that the buildings must be equipped with fire extinguishers.

After the deadly fire at a rooftop bar in Mumbai on December 29 claimed 14 lives, the BBMP has raided several bars, pubs, restaurants and eateries here.

According to Excise Department data as of March 2017, Bengaluru has a registered total of 866 liquor shops, 1,375 bar-cum-restaurants, 74 pubs and 189 hotels and boarding houses selling liquor.

The city has 3,130 registered liquor-selling outlets, including all the liquor shops, restaurants, pubs and hotels as per the Excise Department.

Last week, as many as 57 rooftop pubs and restaurants were served closure notices by the civic body for operating without required licenses.

Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services Department had also issued notices to nearly 70 bars, pubs and eateries in the city for flouting the fire safety rules. The establishments were given a 15-day notice to comply with the norms.