To battle chemical, nuclear attacks: Mumbai firemen get training on hi-tect Hazmat vanhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/to-battle-chemical-nuclear-attacks-mumbai-firemen-get-training-on-hi-tect-hazmat-van-5597460/

To battle chemical, nuclear attacks: Mumbai firemen get training on hi-tect Hazmat van

On Thursday, at least 81 people were killed and over 50 critically injured after a major fire raced through densely packed buildings in a centuries-old neighbourhood of Dhaka in Bangladesh.

At Byculla fire station on Friday. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

A month after Mumbai Fire Brigade procured the Rs 7.5-crore Hazmat vehicle — a 14-tonne hazardous material handling apparatus — at least 30 fire personnel were trained to use it to mitigate chemical, biological radiological and nuclear (CBRN) attacks, officials said Friday.

The 200-piece Hazmat vehicle, which includes fully encapsulated suits, smoke exhauster, chemical leak-sealing equipment and oil spilling control mechanisms, was purchased from a Slovenia-based company. The BMC had earlier issued a global tender for the vehicle.

“The disaster fire-fighting steps are based on ‘RISC’ — Recognise, Isolate, Safe and Clean,” said Milan Dubravac, vice-president of CTIF International Fire Services Association. The organisation seeks to encourage and promote co-operation among firefighters and other experts in fire and rescue operations across the world.

Its 11-kg breathing apparatus allows a physically fit fireman to breathe for 45 minutes, experts said.

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A tinderbox waiting to ignite

An over-populated and congested Mumbai, dotted with chemical fertiliser and petroleum producing industries, besides several small industrial units, is virtually a tinderbox waiting for a major disaster to happen. Its congested alleys are home to scores of smaller factories, like jewellery-making units, that run on the ground floor while hosting residential sectors on the floors above. While the Mumbai Fire Brigade already has standard operating procedures for earthquakes, monsoon, cyclone and fire-related disaster, the SOP for CBRN is its new addition.

During the mock drill, organised at Mumbai Fire Brigade headquarters in Byculla, firemen were trained to response to a sulphuric acid leakage. While one team of firemen were pressed in to recognise the leak, seal it and then create a safety corridor around the affected area, another team entered the area with an encapsulated suit.

Claiming that fire personnel were being trained to use the Hazmat vehicle in case disasters, like chemical spills and gas leakages, PS Rahangdale, chief fire officer of Mumbai Fire Brigade, said: “We have taken a cue from the 2017 gas leak in Delhi to prepare our forces for CBRN attacks or disasters. A latest example is a major fire in Dhaka that had subsequently led to an explosion following contact with a chemical.”

On Thursday, at least 81 people were killed and over 50 critically injured after a major fire raced through densely packed buildings in a centuries-old neighbourhood of Dhaka in Bangladesh.

Under the CBRN standard operating procedure, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has also mapped all areas – slums, residential, commercial and schools, which are likely to be affected in case of accidents around chemical factories dotting the city.

Most of the chemical factories in Mumbai are located in the eastern suburbs, including Mahul, Chembur, Deonar.

In August, a massive blast and fire in Chembur’s Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited had left at least 40 factory workers injured. Locals had then reported earthquake-like vibrations from as far as four km from the plant.