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Delhi factory fire: Why firemen go in blind – Calls that give half the information

“The message we need to spread is that the public shouldn’t be scared of us while reporting a fire. Whether the structure is legal or not isn’t our priority. Our job is to save lives,” said Delhi Fire Services (DFS) director Atul Garg.

Written by Somya Lakhani | New Delhi |
January 4, 2020 6:16:24 am
delhi fire, Anaj Mandi fire, Krishna Nagar fire, Delhi Fire Services, Atul garg, sos calls, death toll in anaj mandi fire, delhi news, indian express news Garg said if it’s a fire in a house, fewer tenders are sent and focus is on the rescue. If the fire is in a residential building with a godwon then more tenders are deployed, and if it’s a factory fire, even more men and tenders are sent to ensure the fire doesn’t spread.

Incorrect information and delayed SOS calls are the main reasons why firefighting operations have been hampered in the recent past, said Delhi Fire Services (DFS) director Atul Garg. Speaking to The Indian Express, Garg spoke about the spate of fire incidents in the last six weeks in the capital, the challenges faced by firemen on the spot, and the urgent need to give basic fire training to the public.

“The message we need to spread is that the public shouldn’t be scared of us while reporting a fire. Whether the structure is legal or not isn’t our priority. Our job is to save lives,” said Garg.

Referring to the factory fire in Anaj Mandi, in which 45 people died in December, he said the early morning call stated it was a “fire inside a house,” due to which “two fire tenders needed to deal with a house fire were sent at first.” It was only after the situation was gauged by firemen on spot that more tenders were rushed in. Garg said, “We had no idea it was a factory or that there were people inside.”

At the same time, on December 26, at least 40 people had a narrow escape when the godown of a building in East Delhi’s Krishna Nagar caught fire. Within two hours, DFS rescued all 40 people. Garg said, “We got correct information that it was a building with a godown and there were people inside. A different firefighting technique, that focussed on rescue, was applied.”

Garg said if it’s a fire in a house, fewer tenders are sent and focus is on the rescue. If the fire is in a residential building with a godwon then more tenders are deployed, and if it’s a factory fire, even more men and tenders are sent to ensure the fire doesn’t spread and that rescue can happen at the same time.

In the Krishna Nagar case, Garg said that since there was information about people on the top floor, one fire tender doused the flames outside and the other splashed water on steps the firemen used to go up and down. “With the right information, we can apply the right technique.”

DFS is also starting a “fire cell,” with three firefighters to train school students in fire safety techniques. “We have written to the Director of Education to share with us contact details of all principals, so we can start by sharing short films and info-graphics on fire safety that they can share with the students. We will hold workshops at schools to tell them to look for signs of fire safety in public spaces such as restaurants and banquets,” said Garg.

He said the plan came into being after repeated workshops in apartment complexes gave poor results with very few residents showing up. Garg said, “Children have a better grasping power and talk about things they learn at home. They become educators.”

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