A fire drill at Mantralaya was marred by a glaring glitch on Monday afternoon as over 4,000 employees were evacuated in a planned manner only to wait in the lawns following a delay in informing the BMC control room. While the fire hooter went off at 4 pm,the control room was informed only at 4.07 pm.
While officials said it was not a major delay,a fire engine arrived only past 4.15 pm,followed by an ambulance four minutes later. On June 21,too,when a major fire gutted three top floors of Mantralaya,questions were raised on the delayed fire-fighting operations. Government officials insisted Mondays was only an evacuation drill to be followed by surprise drills later to gauge the preparedness of staff for an emergency.
The drill,which lasted 30 minutes,was held in the main and the annexe structure. Senior government officials said a drill would also be conducted in the New Administrative Building opposite Mantralaya on Thursday.
The drill commenced at 4 pm and was held on the first three floors of the main structure and floors 1-7 of the annexe structure. It was to ensure that evacuation would be done in the least possible time-frame. The first 15 minutes of the drill concentrated on evacuation,while five minutes were devoted to note down the attendance of evacuees, said Principal Secretary (Relief and Rehabilitation) Pravin Pardeshi. He added: Escape routes have been put up on all floors so that visitors and employees can find their way out in case of an emergency. We have also deployed fire marshals on every floor of the structure. Senior bureaucrats were given charge of a floor each as marshals led the evacuation.
Fire department officials said they were informed about the drill in advance. Around 1,500 employees were evacuated during the drill, said A Dsouza,station officer of the Nariman Point fire station,while Mantralaya statistics said 4,199 staff members were evacuated in 10-12 minutes.
A police team was also deployed outside Mantralaya while the drill was on. Our job was to provide bandobast and ensure that there was no confusion, said DCP (Zone 1) Cherring Dorje.