One fire officer and seven firefighters have the responsibility of keeping track of the fire safety equipment,drills and maps of the six floors of Mantralaya and the adjoining new administrative building in South Mumbai.
The top three floors of the building caught fire on Thursday afternoon leaving the offices of revenue,urban development,forest,home,excise,traffic protocol along with those of the CM,deputy CM and GAD completely destroyed.
The fire officer was on leave on Thursday due to a death in his family and there was no other officer to take charge in his absence. The seven other staff members work in three shifts round the clock in teams of two. The staff is governed by the Public Works Department (PWD).
The fire department in Mantralaya does not have a fire engine or tender of its own and the work of these persons is limited to informing the BMC and fire control room about any incident and the grade of fire.
Sources said the fire officials have been seeking additional staff for a few years. As many as 35 posts were recently sanctioned.
Their work is limited to informing the fire department in BMC if a fire breaks out. They also conduct checks at regular intervals about equipment in the building. They have the details of the floor plan and layout which can guide the fire fighters, said an official from the PWD department.
Officials from the Vidhan Bhavan,which will be where most ministers will work,said with huge metal doors painted with fire proof material every year,woolen cover in the edges to prevent fire from spreading,their building was largely fire-proof. They also said staircase,which will open outside the building ensure that in case of any fire,people can escape directly. PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal was not reachable.