Nearly a decade after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), rattled by the deluge of July 2005, proposed to set up six ‘command centres’ of the Fire Brigade, only one, in Wadala, is operational.
The six proposed locations had been Byculla and Wadala in the city, Vikhroli and Mankhurd in the eastern suburbs and Borivali and Marol in the western suburbs.
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A decade after they were proposed, the Byculla command centre is still getting finishing touches to its interiors, while the Mankhurd, Borivali and Vikhroli centres are only partially functional. The Marol centre is stuck because of a proposed Metro Rail station at the same location. According to sources, the BMC has spent close to Rs 75 crore for constructing these command centres that had been envisaged as decentralising fire control operations. The rationale behind the proposed command centres was that they would be able to mobilise resources from nearby fire stations when needed.
To be headed by a deputy fire officer each, the command centres would not have to seek directions from the chief fire officer and can instead respond immediately. The six selected locations would have covered the length and breadth of the city and suburbs.
A senior fire official said, “There have been procedural delays in the setting up of these command centres. Apart from that, we have only got enough money for equipment in these centres, the other costs also have to be met by the corporation.” The official added while Marol already had a fire station in place which can be converted into a command centre, work on the rest had to be started from scratch. In last week’s Kalbadevi fire, the fire brigade reached the spot 13 minutes after the call, while response time in such emergency cases is fixed at three minutes.
Congress corporator Pravin Chheda said, “This just shows the attitude the corporation has towards the firemen.”