In a bid to reduce its response time to distress calls and also improve its rescue action, the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) has invited tenders for the purchase of 16 new fire engines with automatic transmission that are said to replace fire trucks in the city which are already 12-15 years old, as per fire officials.
“In case of manual transmission of the current fire engines, the fireman driving the vehicle undergoes a lot of stress as these are heavy-duty machines that they manoeuvre and they are also under pressure to reach the spot on time. The new fire engines will allow better integrated control and manoeuvring,” said a senior fire official from the MFB.
In case of the recent Lotus Business Park fire in Andheri (west) also, the fire brigade reached around 15 to 20 minutes after the call.
While internationally, response time for fires is at a maximum of four minutes, in Mumbai the time taken by the brigade to reach the destination is 8 to 10 minutes for city, and 15 to 18 minutes for suburbs.
“We are intending to purchase these 16 machines by the end of this year. Based on the usage of the fire engines and the response we get, we might opt to buy six more new fire engines with automatic transmission the next year,” the fire official added.
The MFB’s need for an upgrade in fire response comes after the brigade faced severe criticism for its inadequate equipment to tackle major blazes in high-rises or slums, especially during peak hours.
The brigade also invited an expression of interest to set up a new fire alert monitoring system.
Currently, the 2,800-strong personnel fire brigade has 56 fire engines, 28 water tankers, 28 ambulances, eight special ladders and six emergency medical ambulances.