Friday’s blaze in Avighna Park at Lower Parel saw the Mumbai Fire Brigade deploying drones for the first time in the city while conducting search operations after the fire outbreak.
With a proliferation of high-rises in Mumbai, Mumbai Fire Brigade is going for advance technology and equipment, including the possibility of deploying drones for actual fire fighting.
Officials said that taking note of high-rises in the city, the fire brigade has already procured three snorkels (ladder and platform van) of 70 meters, 80 meters and 90 meters length that can go up to 30 floors. The fire brigade has also inducted robots to carry out fire fighting in areas where intense heat and smoke makes it difficult for fighters to get inside.
“We have recently got water tower van and soon it will be commissioned. Another key equipment will be ‘High-rise Firefighting Vehicle’ which is likely to be inducted in the fleet by next month. As per the requirements and change in demography of the city, we are upgrading our fire brigade,” R S Choudhary, Deputy Chief Engineer, (Technical), Mumbai Fire Brigade, told The Indian Express.
Officials said that the drones can be used in assessment, search, rescue and firefighting. For high-rises, bigger drones can be fitted with water-pipe and used for throwing water closer to the fire site. Also, it can help in assessing the situation as at times intense heat and smoke makes it difficult for fire fighters to see inside, they said. The other use of these drones can be for saving people from drowning, they added.
“For taking jet water pipes up, we need bigger drones. They can be operated to throw water at the site of fire and also check if anyone is trapped. The drones can be instantly used for providing floating tubes if any person is drowning in sea or water bodies. We are working on the plans to introduce such drones for Mumbai,” Choudhary said.
While water tower van can help with handling blazes in tall buildings on narrow roads, and in sprawling chawls where access is difficult, the “special purpose vehicle” has an in-built pump that can push water up to the 50th floor.
It will help in cases where the building’s internal fire-fighting system – dedicated pipes that carry water to every floor– is not working.
Officials express concern over high-rises as now many buildings are touching 300 meters while the longest snorkel that they have is of 90 meters.
“To tackle fire in high-rises, the internal fire fighting system is the most important thing. It has to be well maintained and in working condition. If a fire erupts beyond 30 floors, it is very challenging for fire fighters,” said an official from the fire brigade.
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