Interface with National President of FSAI and a Top Influencer in the Fire Safety and Security Industry in India
• What's been going on over the past few decades in the fire safety and security industry in India?
A. Over the last few decades, we have witnessed a significant increase in terms of awareness about fire safety and security. There is a rapid growth
of 30-40% in every year, as various industry sectors like large refineries, petrochemical complexes, biotechnology ventures, pharmaceutical, automobile, steel, oil & gas exploration, retail markets and so on, need to implement mandatory Fire & Life Safety Regulations to run their projects. Though, the market size of fire safety and security is booming and expecting a large scale growth, business potential is still largely untouched. Due to lack of awareness, stringent regulations, and misconception of safety measures, ignorance, and over confidence people tend to be least concerned about how precious our life is.
However, a number of serious accidents like that of Bhopal Tragedy which drew global attention brought few changes along with the industrialization and the change of Govt. policies on direct investment. Later, the presence of multinational companies showed the best practices of fire safety and security in their industrial and corporate houses, whereas our fire safety regulations limited only to refineries, mines, aviation, maritime transport, and nuclear power plants.
• How do you observe the current scenario of the industry in India?
A. One of the recent studies states that around 24000 people die due to fire accident per year in India. On an average, 66 people die every day due to a fire incident out of which 62 % are women. As a nation we still have a long way to go when it comes to public safety awareness.
Our growth in the Safety & Security industry is disaster-driven, as I said earlier. Implementation of National Building Codes and Standards in 2005, brought major developments in the fire and security industry. If our citizenry are well learnt about the safety and security practices, we can minimize the chances of fire incidents even though absolute safety from fire is not attainable in practice. In reality, fire safety and security awareness are not popularized. Living in high rise building, people are still concerned about the facilities like designs, scenic view of the neighborhood, clubs, and so on; whereas we hardly check upon the safety measures implemented (which should be the priority check for a safe living) in the building, whether they have emergency evacuation plans, emergency stairs, smoke alarm, fire extinguishers, assembly points etc.
When we observe foreign education system, safety is the first lesson they're taught. Whereas we are still illiterate on how to react if there is a medical emergency, how to evacuate in case of fire burst. The irony is that after witnessing many major fire attacks and accidents, we still not prioritized it as an area of concern.
If every citizen in the country adapt the best practices in Fire Safety and Security, our industry will witness multiple folds of growth, which can be calculated beyond 200-300% on an annual average.
• Best Projects Handled by the Organization?
A. FSAI has implemented many projects that are internationally acknowledged. Few of them are PACC (Project Heads, Architects & Consultants Conclave), IFSY (India Fire & Security Yathra), International Seminar on Hospitals and Hotels, and Global Network Meets.
• You have recently received Latest Excellence Award!
A. Yes, it is the most prestigious "Industry Leadership Award 2017". I received it from Mr. D K Shami, who is the Fire Advisor of Government of India and, Dr. Vikram Singh, the highest Decorated Police Officer & also the Security Advisor to Government of India.
• What are you planning to keep your team motivated during tight deadlines?
A. Well, actually FSAI office bearers (I personally call them FSAI missionaries) are self-motivated to our vision that is, make our nation 'Surakshit Bharat.' Safety and Security is the prime concern of our association. We have 20 verticals who lead the group with lot of passion, enthusiasm and promise to execute our vision. From our part, we conduct constant Town Hall Meetings, Board meetings to keep our members highly motivated to accomplish the tasks on time. I facilitate communicating with team members, which is necessary to work as a team.
• What do you consider to be the challenges while spreading the awareness on fire safety and security systems?
A. Actually, there are a lot of challenges, but the major one is to reach the end-users. It is a herculean task to bring people in a common platform. That's why we are focusing into various verticals like Hotels, Malls, Warehouses, Hospitals, Jewelry Industries etc. As the risk factor is varying from industry to industry, we are concentrating on industries according to the criticality. As of now, we cannot generalize the fire safety needs.
We are addressing the safety requirements in various industries, and then creating awareness on the specialized group.
• How d o you evaluate the awareness of fire safety and security among rural and urban settled people?
A. Our focus is to ensure that all Indian cities are having the best practices in fire-safety. At present, we are more focusing on industrialized cities and towns which are categorized as Tire 1, Tire 2 and Tire 3. Having 23 chapters, we have already covered them. Still, our developed areas are yet to adapt the safety and security measures as expected, so reaching rural areas is our future concern. It's our goal to educate every citizen as they lack the best practices in fire and safety. As I mentioned before, we are focusing mainly on the specialized groups according to the criticality, which calls for the necessity of well-defined and scientific risk-management program to mitigate, minimize and control any possibility of catastrophe.
• How far the aim Digital India will help to create awareness?
A. Digital India is a great platform to reach multitudes. If our literacy rate was high, it could have turned to be a mass hit. Making our country digitally empowered with increased internet connectivity, public service announcements can reach a huge number of end-users. In order to promote awareness on public and personal safety, Digital India helps reaching the mass and keeping them better informed through trainings, public service announcements through social media (where in India we have 230 million users in Facebook alone). It is impossible to reach every sector for awareness without mass media.
• What is your procedure or what step do you follow to create industry workers awareness, as it's very difficult to make them understand and also assure that it will be in their mind for their life?
A. Like most of the developing countries, occupational hazards are not well taken care in Indian society as well. Personal protection in our work environments is still not strictly insisted after witnessing major tragedies on a regular basis, though protection gears are not of a higher investment.
A healthy workplace is a primary dimension of sustainable social and economic development on global, national and local level.
So, in safety and health, self-care and healthy lifestyle for preventing occupational hazards, we're conducting awareness programs to educate industry workers too. But, to guaranteeing safety among industry workers is depended mainly on the enactment of legislation and inspection of workplaces to ensure compliance with safety standards. That will be the effective way to control many specific occupational hazards.
• After the seminar or workshop done in an organization, what steps are taken by FSAI to make a check record in future they maintain and upgrade their product time to time?
A. FSAI is not a regulatory body; our primary responsibility is to create awareness among the mass. To ensure the enactment of fire safety and security regulations, we have various govt bodies enabled.
• Life is very precious; it's a gift from God, What is your special suggestion or advice to the young generation.
A. Most of the accidents are happened by carelessness. If we practice safety and security from our home to the point of destination, we can avoid situations leading to loss lives.
What I suggest is that before leaving house- practice switching of the electrical gadgets and appliances, turn off gas cylinder, while on drive - use seat belts, helmets, follow traffic rules, at the destination - check for the fire and security systems, understand the fire escape routes (whether it's a mall or theatre), at work place- ensure that the exit doors, fire and security systems are operational. Make safety and security as the first priority. Always remember every single life is precious.
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