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Lahore High Court constitutes a Fire Safety Commission

Lahore: Hon’ble Justice Mr. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah of Lahore High Court has constituted a 20-member Fire Safety Commission for the Provincial metropolis. The commission has come up in the wake of a writ petition No. 1619/13 filed by Muhammad Shoaib Saleem, Advocate verses Govt. of Punjab.

The Commission is directed to hold its first meeting before 15.04.2013 and submit first interim report on 19.04.2013. The Commission shall also file monthly interim reports regarding its progress.

Commission shall function in the office of the Punjab Emergency Services, Ferozepur Road and expenses of the Commission shall be borne by the Emergency Services. The Commission can approach LHC at any stage to seek appropriate orders for facilitation of its work. Commission is tasked to address and identify fire safety issues in the city of Lahore with special emphasis on industrial sites and high rise buildings. The commission will review existing laws, rules, regulations and policies relating to fire safety in buildings besides screening and surveying of high rise buildings. It will review urban planning policies and practices for building safety. It will also propose comprehensive fire and building safety practices for implementation by the Government of Punjab.

Commission shall enjoy the powers of a trial court in order to achieve the objectives of the Commission. The Commission shall be authorized to co-opt any person/expert at any stage. The Commission can seek assistance of any Provincial Government Department by approaching the concerned department in writing and the Departments are hereby directed to render full assistance to the Commission. The Commission will have its blog or website for dissemination of information.

The D.G. Punjab Emergency Service had submitted before court that its agency had responded to 3,611 building collapses and 40,334 fire incidents since its inception in 2006. It had also responded to some 13 fire incidents daily. According to him recent major fire incidents in Lahore alone included Aiwan-e-Mashraq Plaza Abbot Road, Dar-e-Arqam School Shahdra Town, Shoe factory Bund Road, Services Hospital Nursery Ward fire, Kohinoor TV fire, New Auriga Centre Main Market,Gulberg, Orient Lab Fire & Building Collapse, Kharak Nala, Multan Road, Shah Alam Plastic Factory fire in June and Shah Alam Market Fire & Building Collapse in February 2011. In Shah Alam fire rescue operations lasted for 18 days due to limited access to the site because of narrow lanes bringing the business activity to a standstill.

In these casualties 60 persons lost their lives and 144 got burn injuries.

The counsel had argued that in the light of the recent fire incidents in the city and the glaring short falls in the fire safety management, formation of a commission was need of the hour. “It is deemed appropriate in the larger public interest to urgently investigate such matters. Future fire accidents could be avoided providing the comfort of safety and security to the residents of the city”, the counsel added.

Commission will be headed by Dr. Rizwan Naseer, D.G. Punjab, Rescue 1122, Secretaries or any other senior responsible officer nominated by them from departments of Housing & Urban, Industries, Local Government & Community, Labour & Environment Protection, DCO, CCPO as well as Advocate General, Punjab will be the members. Dr. Nasir Javed, CEO Punjab Urban Management & Services Unit, President Fire Protection Association of Pakistan, Chairperson Pakistan Council of Architects and Planners, Representative, Pakistan Engineering Council (Punjab), President Institute of Planners, Pakistan, President, Association of Builders & Developers (Punjab), Chairman, City & Regional Planning, UET, Director, Civil Defence, Punjab, Architect Raza Ali Dada, M/s Mushtaq Ahmad Mohal and Syed Mohammad Aslam Rizvi, Advocates will also be members while Mr. Ahmad Rafay Alam, Advocate will act as Secretary of the Commission.

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