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GURGAON-Fire department hamstrung by lack of equipment and workforce

November 06, 2018 05:52 AM


Kartik Kumar ■
Fire department hamstrung by lack of equipment and workforce
GURUGRAM: In a city with over 1,200 high-rises, its fire department works at one-third their recommended strength and one hydraulic ladder capable of reaching only till the 14th floor, making the department heavily dependent on private fire service companies from nearby cities to tackle blazes.

Gurugram fire department is heavily dependent on private fire services. The ban of firecrackers may help reduce incidents but they particularly lack capability to tackle fires in high rises.
While the Supreme Court’s order banning all firecrackers, barring low-decibel, low-emission crackers, has assuaged the concerns of the fire department by a large extent, their ill-preparedness puts their lives and the lives of many residents at risk ahead of Diwali, one of the busiest days in the year for the department. Last year, eight cases of fire were reported on Diwali, without any injuries.

“We have been lucky in 2018 and 2017 as the Supreme Court’s order left us with five extra fire tenders and 40 firemen who would otherwise be deputed at wholesaler stockyards and firecracker stalls. But there are several other factors which can cause a fire on Diwali day such as burning of lamps, higher electricity load, short circuits,” assistant divisional fire safety officer IS Kashyap said.

Kashyap said that as per the standing fire advisory council recommendations, 27 staff members need to be allocated per fire tender.

Hence, there should be more than 600 staffers in Gurugram, but currently only 195 positions are filled at the moment—50 regular employees and 145 outsourced.

“Ideally, the fire department staff size needs to be triple of its existing strength.

A proposal to increase the total number of fire brigades from four to seven is pending with the government since early

2017. Once this is approved, automatically more posts will also be sanctioned and the city will be comprehensively covered,” Kashyap said.

The inadequate infrastructure also leaves the department handicapped.

The fire department classifies, ‘high-rises’ as buildings taller than 15 metres. Although their ladder can reach the 14th floor, (42 metres), there are more than

200 buildings in the city that tower above this height, city fire department officials said.

Till last year, the city had two hydraulic platforms but due to a lack of equipment, one from Gurugram was sent to Panchkula permanently basis.

Overall, the fire department has 23 fire tenders, 19 waterbased, three rescue tenders and a 42m-hydraulic platform. In addition, it has one pickup van and seven water-mist motorcycles.

Kashyap said that for rescue operations in buildings higher than 42 metres, they rely on DLF fire services which has two hydraulic platforms, one with a reach of 90 metres and another which can reach 60 metres. He conceded that coordinating with “any other fire department”, both within or outside the city ends up costing time; it can take more than an hour for some fire tenders to reach the spot.


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