Members of the Mumbai Fire Brigade Officers Association threatening to tender mass resignation in protest against the arrest of their colleague, station officer of Worli fire station R B Patil, in connection with the Kamala Mills fire is being seen by senior BMC officials as an unbecoming move.
“Patil was arrested by police during investigation into the Kamala Mills compound fire. He is not among the 10 officials facing departmental inquiry initiated by the BMC, then what’s the meaning of resigning in protest? We cannot intervene in the police investigation. Besides, police must have arrested Patil on the basis of evidence,” said a
senior civic official.
After fire officer Patil was arrested on January 20 along with two others for the fire at the two upscale restaurants at Kamala Mills compound that killed 14 people on December 29, the members of the Mumbai Fire Brigade Officers Association (FBOA) had reportedly threatened to resign on Monday.
Prakash Devidas, president of the FBOA, alleged the officer was being made a scapegoat. “No department officer does a follow- up, there is no proper mechanism to follow up or re-check violations. Just because Patil inspected the site and signed the documents he has been found guilty. It is unfair on us, as this will discourage sincere officials from performing their duties,” added Devidas. He said, “We sought time from Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta but he has not replied yet. We want to discuss the matter with him.”
A senior BMC official, however, said, “If the inspection pictures submitted by Patil were not tampered with or morphed by him, why would the police arrest him? The association must think about it.” According to Devidas, Patil’s arrest has enraged all officials of the Mumbai Fire Brigade. He said if a decision in their favour is not forthcoming, all fire station officers, assistant fire officers, deputy fire officers and others would tender resignations.
The inquiry by the BMC chief looked into roles of fire officers and others. On the day after the fire, the civic chief had suspended S S Shinde, a divisional fire officer, who had signed the fire safety compliance NOC for 1Above resto-pub.
The association has given a day’s time to the chief fire officer and the municipal commissioner to give their replies.
When contacted, Prabhat Rahangdale, chief fire officer of the Mumbai Fire Brigade, said, “There is no such threat from our officials. They had come to discuss internal issues with me. Nobody has resigned and nobody has threatened to resign.” Rahangdale refused to comment any further.