In the wake of the recent fire at the 26-storey Mont Blanc building in Kemps Corner in which seven persons died, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC’s) fire department has pointed out to the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT), which is executing the Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment project, that no provision has been made for a fire station at the plot.
Bhendi Bazaar is the largest project so far under the cluster redevelopment scheme over 16.5 acres and entails construction of 249 multi-storey buildings of 30 floors to 62 floors each.
The Mumbai Fire Brigade has told the Trust that an open plot may be reserved for a separate fire station. “It was a surprise for us that such a big cluster project does not have a reserved space for a separate fire station. The fire stations closest from Bhendi Bazaar are in Byculla and Colaba. But these are old and do not have the equipment to handle fire safety of the numerous highrises proposed at Bhendi Bazaar,” S H Nesrikar, Deputy Fire Officer, said.
The SBUT executive did not wish to comment on the issue.
The redevelopment comprises nine clusters for the 20,000-odd residents, and is expected to be complete in 2020. The Rs 3,000-crore project is located in the C Ward (Bhendi Bazaar, Crawford Market, Nagpada and Memonwada), spread over an area of 66,264.65 sq m or 16.5 acres.
At present, the Memonwada fire station, which caters to the Bhendi Bazaar population and residents of Null Bazaar, is equipped with two fire engines. “While we can call for help from fire stations at Byculla, Colaba and Gowalia Tank in case of a major fire, none of these are equipped to handle highrise fires,” said a senior fire official. The fire department has also suggested that SBUT can help fund the upgrade of the Memonwada fire station.
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Currently, Mumbai has 33 fire stations — 15 in the city, 12 in the western suburbs and six in the eastern suburbs. While the international response time for fires is reported to be four minutes, it is 8-10 minutes in the city area and 15-18 minutes in the suburbs.
The BMC will soon acquire a snorkel with a capacity to go up to 90 feet for fighting fires in highrises and the equipment will be kept at Byculla fire station. “With the project expected to have more than 200 highrises, the developers should have planned a separate hi-tech fire station to specifically cater to the cluster,” said the official.