Indian fire service, which was first established in Bombay (1803), followed by Calcutta (1822) and Madras (1908)
thus completed 200 years. After independence (1958) the Standing Fire Advisory council under Ministry of Home Affairs recommended various aspects of uniform fire service development throughout the country. In 1997, Ministry of Home Affairs declared that a total of 1754 (excluding 278 tailor - made fire stations operating exclusively in industrial sector) fire stations
with 5149 fire appliances/vehicles and 50,730 fire professionals are functioning throughout India. However,these services are limited to urban and industrial areas. However, studies show that major fire incidents in India are due to the explosion in the fireworks factory and homemade fireworks followed by residential fires/urban slum fires and others. Each year, 450-470 people
in India lose their lives to burn injuries caused by firecrackers and ironically a majority of them are children and women.The
Loss Prevention Association of India Ltd (LPA) maintains that thousands of cases pertaining to burn injuries go unreported. In
2002 the LPA has urged the government to introduce a ban on the sale of fireworks to children below 15 years.Analyses of
data showed that the total number of deaths due to fire in 2001, 2002 and 2003 was 5787 and total property loss was estimated to be Rs. 1046 crore in India. The vast majority of all fire -related mortality and morbidity in USA result form non - catastrophicfires,i.e. fires occur in residential areas. An analysis of annual mortality data from 1978 through 1984 in USA shows that an average of 4,897 persons died each year in residential fires. A similar analysis of data from 1979 through 1985 indicates that smokes inhalation accounted for two-thirds of the deaths and burns accounted for one-thirds.
Chronology of Fire disasters across the Globe
1. The Great London Fire of September 2, 1666:the entire city of London was hugely destructed by fir within 5 days, although
the number of death was limited to only six. The London of 1666 was a city of half - timbered and pitch-covered medieval buildings, mostly with thatched roofs. By the end of the fire, some four - fifths of the city had been destroyed-approximately 13,200 houses, 87 churches, and 50 livery halls spread over an area of 436 acres.
2. A fire in New York city in 1835 destroyed 500 buildings.
3. The great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed much of the city – at least 17000 structures and caused 250 deaths. The loss in today’s rate is estimated to be more than $9532 million.
4. A fire in Boston in 1872 destroyed 800 buildings.
5. A church fire in Birmingham in 1902 killed 115.
6. Firestorm in Mont Pales on Martinique killed approximately 30000 in 1902.
7. In 1903 the deadly fire in the Iroquois Theater, USA accounted for 602 deaths.
8. The firestorm that followed the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 leveled much of that city.
9. Over 2000 people succumbed to deaths while munitions ship exploded in Halifax, New Southampton.
10. Tokyo earthquake of 1923 killed approximately 130000 persons by fire alone due to explosion in chemical and petrochemical factories (non-functioning of explosion suppressing equipment due to electricity failure during the EQ).
11. Fire accounted for 31.2% of all disasters in USA from 1941 through 1975. Furthermore, it accounted for 26.9% of all disaster associated mortality.Fully 68.3% of the fires and 47.1% of all associated deaths occurred in houses and apartments.
Only 7.4% occurred in temporary public residences (hotel and boarding houses),4.3% in treatment centers,and 0.9% in public places.The total number of deaths due to fire was more than 23,000. The Coconut Grove club fire in Boston in 1942 killed 491 people. An explosion in ship in Texas city resulted in 468 deaths.
12. A nightclub fire in Kentucky in 1977 killed 164.
13. The gas cloud explosion killed 500 people and injured many more in Mexico City in 1990s.
14. Over 260 people were killed in a fire in Ethiopia in 1991.
15. A fire in a toy factory in Bangkok in 1994 killed 231 people.
16. A theater fire in China in 1994 killed 300.
17. Over 500 were killed in a school fire in India in 1995.
18. Fire in a hotel in Thailand in 1997 resulted in 90 deaths.
19. Explosion in World Trade Centre in 2001 accounted for more than 3000 deaths.
20. Paraguay supermarket fire in August 2004 resulted in at least 423 deaths and 139 missing.
Chronology of Fire disasters across India
Ever since Independence,accidents in buildings, mainly from fires,across the country have caused extensive loss of life and property. Yet hardly any long-term safety measures have been put in place. Some of the major fire incidents that occurred
in India in the past four decades are listed out below.
1. On 31/1/1974 an explosion in a rail transport ( fire work products ) in led to deaths of 42 people in Allahabad.
2. A total of 78 people were died and 88 were injured due to fire in a cinema hall in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu on 29/71979.
3. Similarly, in 1981, explosion in a firework factory in Mettupatti killed 32 workers, including women and children.
4. In 1992 two separate incidents of firework disasters in Tharia and Ludhiana accounted for 25 and 40 deaths respectively.
5. Explosion at a firecracker factory in Rohtak, Haryana on 24/5/95 resulted in a death toll of 23 people, which included 13
women, 6 children and 4 men.
6. Over 500 people were dead and 300 injured due a fire in school function in Dabwali, Haryana on 23/12/1995.
7. In the same year a fire at a cinema theater in Delhi killed more than 60 people and injured hundreds.
8. An accidental fire in the Brihadeswara temple in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu on 9/6/1997 resulted in more than 60
deaths and 250 were injured in the stampede toescape.
9. At least 204 people died due to a fire in a religious discourse at Baripada, Orissa in February 1997.
10. At least 45 people were killed(16 women and eight children were among the death)and 16 seriously injured on 7/11/1999
in Sonepat, Haryana,when a fire began after sparks from some high-tension wires over the market fell over a firecracker shop
an adjoining clothes store. Some 25 stores, some of them selling plastic wares, were completely gutted.
11.In November 2002,at least 17 people were killed and 27 injured (five in critical conditions)when two gas cylinders in a van carrying fireworks exploded, bringing down several houses nearby at Athur near Salem. Those dead included seven men, five women and five children. 15 houses on either side of the street came down in the explosion, trapping and killing the people
inside them. Crackers, stored in one of the buildings, were being loaded into the van, which was already carrying two gas cylinders. The van was gutted in the fire.
12. A blast occurred on 4/11/04 in Srikakulum, Andhra Pradesh as explosives stored unauthorised by a cracker manufacturer in Chinna Bazar area caught fire. The incident killed 13 and seriously injured 13 others. Several other nearby houses have been badly damaged.This was an illegal factory; they had no licence for manufacturing firecrackers.
13. A fire breakout in a school at Kumbakonam on 16th July 2004 resulted in 93 deaths of primary school children.
14. Several hundred tsunami survivors at Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu are homeless again after fire gutted their temporary shelters.The blaze was started by fireworks being used to celebrate Diwali. The 90 families affected have been re-housed in a
local hall on 1.11.2005.
15. Fire engulfed three illegal firecracker factories in Khusropur village(22 miles east of the state capital Patna, eastern state of Bihar) on 15/9/05 accounted for at least 35 deaths and injured at least 50 people. The factories were being run from three houses in the village. The fire was sparked by an electrical short circuit and quickly spread to the flammable material stored in
16. Fire in a fireworks plant in Tamil Nadu on 22.2.2006 killed 10 and seriously injured 19.The fire was caused by an explosion at
a stack of 'rockets' being dried, against rules, under trees. Extremely hot climate and friction had triggered the explosion, the resultant fire spread instantly to the shed were 'packed rockets' had been stored and from there, it spread to other sheds.
17. Fire breakout in a trade fair in Meerut, UP on 10.4.06 killed more than 57 people and injured thousands.