Based on recommendations made by a fact-finding committee that probed the Kalbadevi fire of 2015 in which four top officers of the fire department died, 15 mini fire stations will soon be established across the city in a bid to reduce the response time to initiate rescue operations.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation will also purchase 20 fire bikes that can navigate narrow lanes, especially in congested areas, and reach the site before a fire engine can arrive.
Officials from the fire department said their initial plan was to set up a total of 17 mini fire stations, two of which have already been constructed and are currently functional. “We have two mini fire stations set up at the Maharashtra Fire Service headquarters at Kalina and at Film City in Goregaon. As the remaining fire stations will come up on plots owned by the BMC, the work on the remaining fire stations will be completed in the next two months,” said a senior fire official.
According to the department, the 17 quick response vehicles costing Rs 1.8 crore each, with a capacity to carry 500 litres of water, will be equipped with imported apparatus, including a water mist system that is considered more effective in dousing fires. “The mini fire stations as well as the regular fire stations are all connected to a wireless system that includes a GPS tracking system. When the fire control room receives a call, it will go to both the stations. As the quick response vehicle is smaller in size, it can reach the spot quicker,” said the official, adding that the four fire officials on board could start the rescue operations while the other fire tenders made their way to the site.
The tendering process for the purchase of the fire bikes, which cost around Rs 10 lakh each, is under way. The department expects them to be ready for use by April next year.
“The bikes can carry around 50 litres of water each and help reduce the response time significantly during disaster situations in heavily congested areas. Two fire officials will ride the bike and can give an early understanding of the situation so that we can be better prepared,” said the official.
Each of the mini fire stations, costing around Rs 25 lakh, will house a quick response vehicle and at least one fire bike. These stations will come up in areas such as Worli, Malabar Hill and Bhuleshwar in the island city, Trombay, Ghatkopar, Kanjur Marg, Mahul, Nahur and Govandi in the eastern suburbs and Andheri, Chandivli and Kandivali in the western suburbs.