UL in India organized its Sixth Annual Fire Safety Council meet in Mumbai on September 30 and October 1, 2014. The event brought together key decision makers, influencers, technical experts, regulators like DGFASLI (Directorate General, Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes) and professionals from leading corporations and industry associations, along with executives from UL. This year also witnessed participation from the Insurance industry, specifically the National Insurance Academy. The first day of the event was mainly focused on built environment with discussions revolving around fire fighter safety, fire incidents, new technologies and fire safety challenges associated with them. On the second day, there were two streams of discussions – built environment and industrial fire safety.

In his opening address, Mr. Suresh Sugavanam, Managing Director, UL South Asia welcomed the delegates and set the stage for a two day event . Mr. R.A. Venkitachalam, VP, Public Safety Mission, UL outlined the Safety Mission related efforts through his presentation ‘Living the Public Safety Mission’ in India. An analysis of the Fire Incident data for the year 2013 was presented which clearly brought out the need for better cause analysis of fires and awareness creation.

Among the prominent international speakers at the event were Mr. Gregory Cade, Divisional Director, Government Affairs, NFPA and Mr. George Healy, Dy. Chief, New York Fire Department. Mr. Sanganna Gejji, Sr. Faculty, National Insurance Academy, Pune and Mr. R K Misra, CEO, Center for Smart Cities were speakers who helped provide an external perspective on fire safety. One key aspect of this year’s Council was the presence of significant number of representatives from the Fire Fighter community, especially from Mumbai. The ensuing discussions led us to identify ‘Firefighter Training’ as a key area for attention in the future.

The presentations by DGFASLI – the Indian equivalent of OSHA were equally insightful; pointing to the big role that UL can play here even outside of the petrochemical sector where UL is omnipresent. The aspect of enhanced training in the area of WHS was another key area for UL to act on.

The key action items emerging from the Council sessions are:

  •  Fire fighter safety and research, facilitated by a forum for ‘firefighting techniques’ training and experience sharing – keeping the India context in mind.
  •  Collaboration with the National Fire Service College and National Insurance Academy to pilot a fire investigation training program
  •  Awareness creation and communication across schools, residential societies and commercial establishments as a part of the Safety Smart Program

Given the Modi Government’s endeavor to develop ‘100 Smart Cities’, it was recommended that UL play the role of Safety Champion for ‘Safe and Smart Cities’