Communication is the backbone of any firefighting unit and the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB), in a step towards upgrading its outdated system, is all set to purchase a high-tech digital mobile radio (DMR) system.
The move comes following suggestions from a fact-finding committee that was set up after four officials died in a fire at Kalbadevi’s Gokul Niwas building in 2015.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has finalised a contractor to buy a new digital wireless set for centralised radio management software that will replace the existing analogue walkie-talkie system. The Rs 11.8-crore proposal will be tabled for approval at the civic body’s standing committee meeting on Wednesday.
A fillip for ailing dept
Upgrading to a new communication system is a much needed move for the Mumbai Fire Brigade’s ailing wireless department. It will help in effective and targeted firefighting and rescue at a time when the city is adding more and more skyscrapers to its skyline. Using the existing system, the force has often experienced loss of signal creating hindrances in supplying logistics while firefighting is underway, hence delaying the process of containing the fire.
On December 27, 2018, The Indian Express had reported about the fire brigade’s outdated communication system that was last upgraded in 2008.
According to the proposal, the new communication system will be resistant to heat, water and dust, with a larger battery life. Moreover, it will have remote microphone facility inside suits to enable hands-free communication during firefighting operations.
“The system will have modern equipment such as digital hand-held wireless set, centralised radio management software, six unit battery charges, remote wired microphone, digital VHF (very high frequency) mobile, mounting stands for vehicles, digital repeater for effective communication, even in adverse conditions. This will largely improve communication during firefighting,” said Mahesh Upasani, assistant station officer of the fire brigade’s wireless department, adding that a contractor will look after installation and maintenance for the next three years.
The fire brigade will get 500 walkie-talkie sets, 500 2400mH (megahertz) batteries, 500 remote microphones, 390 digital VHF mobiles and 270 digital mounting stands.
Upasani added, “We will get 22 equipment sets for the new system.”
“The current walkie-talkie sets stop functioning if they come in contact with water, heat and dust during firefighting. Also, the battery life of these sets is poor and they get discharged in five to six hours’ time,” said an MFB official.
Besides, the fire brigade will also purchase new equipment worth Rs 4.9 crore for rescue operations during fires and incidences of building collapse. The equipment include cutter, door breaker, electro-hydraulic power back-up, and battery operated combi tools for opening or breaking doors or grills.