Public memory, it is said, is short. And yet, almost four months after the Carlton tower fire accident, the family members of the victims and the survivors continue to tirelessly work towards spreading awareness on fire safety, through the group ‘Beyond Carlton’.
Recently, one of the members of Beyond Carlton, Uday Vijayan, addressed some employees of Sasken, a city-based communications technology major, on fire safety. This was at a fire safety awareness programme for Sasken employees conducted by the company in association with Janaagraha and Civil Defence. Vijayan, who lost his son Akhil, on that tragic February 23rd evening at Carlton towers, spoke about the importance of being fire safe and knowing what to do in case of a fire emergency.
To make the session interactive, he conducted a quiz on fire-safety related questions. Questions include whether one should use an elevator or the stairs in case of fire, how often mock fire drills need to be conducted and so on.
Vijayan is also in talks with other companies in the city to conduct similar sessions on fire safety.
Beyond Carlton was formed with the primary objective of not letting another tragedy like Carlton tower occur ever again in the city. And Vijayan says that the ideal situation would be when individuals start questioning their apartments and offices on matters related to fire safety.
Beyond Carlton member Kiran Jonnalagadda says, "Fire safety, like any other safety measure, is inherently boring. You will never see people queuing up outside a store to buy the latest model of fire extinguisher like you would for the latest Apple gadget. And yet, the consequences of an oversight can be disastrous, as we saw at Carlton Towers."
The members of this group believe that "While it is important to get the mandated authorities to be accountable, we the citizen, can learn how to react in such emergencies and insist on greater safety measures in our daily lives, be it the workplace, home, the malls we visit, the hotels we stay in or the schools our kids go to."
Since its inception, the group has mainly had a presence on Facebook and Twitter, which are social media and networking websites. Here they have put out information on fire safety, the status of the Carlton tower case, and other fire safety-related queries.
But since social networking sites have their own limitations in terms of features and wider accessibility, Beyond Carlton is now looking to set up a website to disseminate this information.
Says Kiran Jonnalagadda, one of the survivors of the Carlton tower fire and a member of the group, "We want to take it to a level where we have control over what we can do."
The website will contain information that is categorised like FAQs or Frequently Asked Questions, the progress of the Carlton tower case, helpline numbers, fire safety tips and information on the Beyond Carlton campaign itself. They will also include case studies and files that can be downloaded. "Many do not have access to Facebook and Twitter. It’s important to reach out to many people who are opinionated and educated. Basically, the average citizen who has online access", says Vijayan.
They would also eventually look at including an option where visitors of the website can make monetary donations.
Another important reason why the group wants to set up a website, is because of the huge apathy with regard to fire safety. "People don’t believe it’s an issue and they don’t think they’ll be affected", feels Vijayan. Beyond Carlton, therefore, wants to present basic truths about fire safety and create a sort of check list for citizens to refer to.
The members of the group are clear that they are not an NGO. "We all do this because we have been affected. The website will be a catalogue of what we do. It’ll become a reference", Vijayan says.
As Jonnalagadda says, "Fire safety, like any other safety measure, is inherently boring. You will never see people queuing up outside a store to buy the latest model of fire extinguisher like you would for the latest Apple gadget. And yet, the consequences of an oversight can be disastrous, as we saw at Carlton Towers."
The Beyond Carlton group is now looking for volunteers to help build and design this website.⊕