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12 years on, Mumbai to get 16 new fire engines

Mumbai Fire Brigade to announce winning tender next week; 90-metre snorkel from Finland on its way, too

After the 21st floor of Lotus Business Park in Andheri caught fire which spread to the building’s lower floors on July 18, the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) has sped up the process of purchasing 16 new fire engines at the cost of Rs 15 crore after a hiatus of 12 years.

Mumbai Fire Brigade
Many fireman have reported breakdown of old engines during fire fighting operations. File Pic

Along with the fire engines, MFB has also purchased a 90-metre snorkel from a Finland company, which will be delivered within the next 10 months. Next week, the department will announce the name of the company, which has bagged the contract to supply the vehicles. A tender was floated on August 12, and with the new fleet, 16 outdated fire engines will be phased out. The plan is to phase out 30, old fire engines in total. The remaining will be discarded after the next purchase.

“Most of our fire engines are over 25 years old. The new vehicles will increase efficiency and the response time of fire fighting and other rescue operations. In the next one year we will be able to include these fire engines in our operations,” Sunil Nesarikar, chief fire brigade officer, Mumbai, said.

Currently, the fire brigade has 57 fire engines, 28 water tankers, 28 ambulances, eight special ladders and six emergency medical ambulances.

According to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) vehicle rule, a fire engine can be used for 15 years, after which its efficiency decreases. Fifty per cent of the current fleet of 57 fire engines need to be phased out.

Inbuilt equipment
A fire engine contains inbuilt rescue tools and is also equipped with battery-operated cutting tools and hydraulic-operated rescue tools that can break through walls, break locks open, force doors open and lift heavy vehicles and objects. “However, many firemen have reported the breakdown of old engines during fire-fighting operations. A breakdown directly affects the response time,” a senior official said, on condition of anonymity.

The delay
In 2012, the fire department had planned to purchase new vehicles but due to the Central government’s BS-4 or Bharat Stage 4 Emission norms for vehicles in 13 major cities, no Indian manufacturer was available to produce BS-4 vehicles, which delayed the purchase. The MFB approached the court and requested a grant to continue use of the old vehicle for next few years.
“Our 30 fire engines have been running for over 25 years due to which the maintenance has increased, while the efficiency has dropped. Our fire engines need to be in top shape and the new machines are the need of the hour as the breakdown of old engines would affect rescue and fire fighting operations,” a senior officer said, on condition of anonymity.

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