As a fire tender pulled up in southeast Delhi’s Jangpura Thursday morning, firefighter Nirbhay Singh Meena (52) made a polite announcement to the residents: “We are here for you. We will be very careful but if any of the sprayed liquid damages something, forgive us in advance. Bura mat maaniyega.” And then began the sanitisation process of homes, shops, parks, temples, gurdwaras and mosques, bus stops and lanes in Jangpura, Jangpura Extension and Bhogal — areas close to Nizamuddin, a coronavirus hotspot.
Meena was accompanied by three more firefighters, Jai Prakash, Chap Singh and Deepak Dagar, and while the men expected people to cooperate, what they didn’t see coming was resounding applause from balconies of residents who thanked the four for a job well done.
A video of people applauding was posted on Twitter by Darya Ganj councillor Yasmin Kidwai. Delhi Fire Service (DFS) has been recruited to sanitise areas in the capital closest to coronavirus hotspots. DFS director Atul Garg said, “Two fire stations, four fire tenders and 16 firefighters have been set aside just for the sanitising assignment.”
On Thursday, the men used 18,000 litres of sodium hypochlorite mixed with water across the three localities, and were guided by South MCD officials.
“Thankfully, the reach of the hose attached to the fire tender — 30 metres — is such that the men don’t have to enter any lanes or confined spaces. I spoke to the health department officials who said that since the men don’t come in contact with COVID-19 patients or even enter confined spaces, they are under low risk,” Garg said
“The men are equipped with cotton dungarees, gumboots, gloves, a special helmet with goggles, face shield and a mask. They have been instructed not to go in,” he added.
He said that in case the men do have to enter a confined space to sanitise, there are six personal protective equipment (PPEs) that have been provided to the department by the South MCD.
Meena, who joined service in 1996 and was one of the men who was a part of the firefighting team during the 1997 Uphaar Cinema blaze, said that he “doesn’t fear anything”.
The father of four said, “Firefighters take risks to save people, it’s our job and this is no different. I am proud of the work I do, but today, the applause was overwhelming, and extremely encouraging. We will return tomorrow.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines