Three years after it first initiated the plan to import a new snorkel to combat highrise fires, the Mumbai Fire Brigade Sunday unveiled a brand new 90-metre device to do the same. Stationed at the Byculla fire station, the hydraulic platform can scale upto 30 floors and has a turntable ladder and elevated water pumps to conduct firefighting and rescue operations.
The decision to purchase the aerial ladder was taken in 2012, but the process got delayed owing to negotiations with Bronto, a Finland-based company that manufactures it. The proposal was passed in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) standing committee last year after the fire at Lotus Business Park, Andheri (West), which claimed the life of a fireman.
Starting Monday, 17 fire officials will be trained to handle the snorkel for a week, a senior fire official confirmed. The fire brigade is also in the process of acquiring a 81-metre ladder by next year. The Mumbai Fire Brigade Sunday also inaugurated the second fire command centre at Byculla.
Following the floods in the city in 2005, the fire brigade had planned to set up six command centres across the city – two at Byculla and Wadala in the south, two at Vikhroli and Mankhurd in the eastern suburbs and two at Borivali and Marol in the western suburbs. The rationale behind setting up these command centres was to cover the length and breadth of the city by providing immediate relief in cases of sudden disasters. Though only an administrative unit has been formed till now, the brigade is expecting to turn Byculla into an operating centre in another year.
Jolted by the Kalbadevi fire in May, where the brigade lost four senior fire officials, including chief fire officer Sunil Nesrikar, the administration has been looking at steps to create an overhaul of the fire department.
Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, who was present at the unveiling of the snorkel, said the administration was looking at three major steps to improve fire safety in the city. “First, we are looking to train residents as first responders to disasters. We are also publishing posters to make people aware of fire hazards. We will improve the brigade manpower by filling all vacant posts and provide the firemen with the best training and equipment. In the final stage, we improve firefighting infrastructure by working on concepts like mini fire stations across the city,” he said.
The fire brigade has, till now, trained 30 residents, who will act as firefighting volunteers in case of emergencies. The brigade gives people basic training in firefighting for a period of more than a week. A test is held on the final day to select candidates.
Chief Fire Officer P S Rahangdale said, “We selected 30 of the 52 people we had trained. In a couple of years, we are looking at increasing the number to 6,000. We will also have a database of the volunteers and will provide them with identity cards.”