Two years ago in the middle of a Sunday night our industrial estate in Thane caught fire. Since it was a Sunday night there was nobody working in the industrial estate and so no one quite knew what triggered the fire. The watchman was not on duty on that very day. One of my workers who stays close by alerted me at 1.30 at night. The fire had started in a large wooden metre box of the MSEB and affected the 20 electrical meters connected to it. All the connected cables carried the fire. The main metre box was located next to my gala where there was a common wall.
Since we have small galas and large passages, much of our material was kept in the passage. 50% of the galas belonged to printing presses and binders and so most of the material stored in the passage was paper related. This included, raw material, semi finished and finished goods.
For almost 10 days the whole industrial estate came to a standstill. The industrial estate was not insured. And the heat generated caused a lot of equipment like ACs, security cameras to melt down.
My one gala was completely damaged and others were partially damaged. However as the whole industrial estate was affected the gala was out of commission for a good 10 days.
Only my machinery was insured as it was the bank's requirement but stock was not covered. Also, all the material which was temporarily stored in the passage and lobby was not covered. Security systems, cameras, EPBX, ACs were installed but it missed my attention to enhance the cover to include all this and these were all affected. The industrial estate was not insured so it was an additional expense for all of us and we contributed towards this expense also.
My observation is that people mostly cover machines but don't cover office equipment and infrastructure and civil work like painting etc. Small units, say binderies are also not covered due to a similar lack of alertness. I was shell-shocked on hearing this news in the middle of the night and was in that state of shock for a couple of hours. The next day morning I started taking positive steps. I did not want the horrible sight to be photographed by excited journalists wanting sensational news. Neither did I want public crowding my gala to see the disaster. I wanted to get the industrial estate out of the depressing sight. I thought, in any case none of us were going to get anything from the insurance company, then why maintain the sorry sight? I took immediate steps to get the industrial estate back to normalcy.
These were things lie, plumbing, electrical wiring, painting all work was started the next day within 24 hours.
My tip to fellow printers is: Switch off all mains before locking the gala. Switch off the total supply when gala is unattended.
Medha Virkar was honoured with the Outputlinks' Women of Distinction Award for her industry experience, leadership skills and participation in the industry. Virkar who heads Kaleido Graphics has compiled a set of interviews with the printers affected by fire, floods and other accidents as part of Special Insurance Theme in the latest issue of Mumbai Mudrak Sangh's Print Bulletin. The above interview is an excerpt from the November 2014 print edition.