IMPLEMENTING DIRECTIONS of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will station six fire engines at the Deonar dumping ground permanently, to tend to fires caused by spontaneous combustion. The engines, however, will be from among those set to be decommissioned from the fire brigade’s service soon, and are likely to be manned by outsourced staffers instead of fire department officers.
The fire department has received 16 new fire engines and will retire 16 existing vehicles that have been in use for 15 years. Instead of disposing of these vehicles that cannot, as per RTO rules, be operated on the city’s roads, the fire department has proposed that they be used to tackle fires in the three dumping grounds at Deonar, Kanjurmarg and Mulund. Officials said there is nothing in the norms against using the old vehicles on internal routes inside a civic-owned facility.
Chief fire officer P S Rahangdale said, “We suggested that three fire engines be placed at each of the three dumping grounds while the rest can be disposed of as scrap. We have also proposed that the solid waste management (SWM) department outsource the responsibility of manning these fire engines to an agency. We will train the personnel.”
Pocket fires are common at dumping grounds owing to spontaneous combustion of methane. Quick response to douse such blazes can prevent an episode similar to the one at Deonar, which started on January 27 and lasted over a week.
A senior civic official said that the fire engines, each weighing around 25 tonnes when loaded, cannot be driven on municipal roads after being in use for over 15 years, but can still ply on smaller, private roads.
“They will be stationed at the BMC chowky at the dumping ground and staff members can always be driven to the spot in a jeep in a shorter span of time,” said the official.
Each of the fire engines can carry between 10,000-20,000 litres of water’.