'50 percent police stations are fire hazards'

Fire officials say that more than half of the city’s police stations do not have safety systems in case of emergencies

A blaze at the Pimpri police station in the wee hours of Saturday, which reduced 50 two-wheelers to ashes, has highlighted a bigger issue at hand — the lack of fire safety and firefighting equipment at police stations across the city.

Despite standing orders to conduct safety and audits at all police stations — zonal and regional offices — it seems police authorities don’t seem bothered to ensure that sensitive files and records are kept safe in case of a blaze. Firefighters say that 50 per cent of police stations don’t have firefighting systems in place and the rest have only a fire extinguisher, which is inadequate in cases of an emergency.

The instruction of carrying fire audits came after Mantralaya in Mumbai was burnt in 2012, owing to which the state lost a lot of important documents and files.

Following the fire, the District Collector had ordered all government offices, buildings, including the Pune Police Commissionerate, to beaudited.

Officials immediately carried out a fire safety audit of all the stations in the city in June 2012, but almost two years later, the situation of fire safety at police stations has remain unchanged.

Chief Fire Officer, Prashant Ranpise said, “We had given all necessary instructions to every police station to install mandatory fire fighting systems. Some responded to it, but barring a couple of police stations, none have yet completed the work.”

He added that only the Faraskhana and Vishrambaug police stations had installed fire systems but the other places, including old and small chowkies were yet to install or carry out any fire safety practices.

“One of the reasons why such systems aren’t in place is because there is no budgetary provision made by the police administration. Funds are allocated for renovation and repair work but not for setting up fire systems,” Ranpise further elaborated.

When mid-day spoke to Additional Commissioner of Police (Administration) Abdur Rehman, he said, “We have issued standing orders to officers in-charge of every police station, zonal and regional office, to carry out fire and structural audits of their establishments at regular intervals of one or two years. These are standing orders and officers don’t need to be reminded about it.”

Blaze at Pimpri station

On Saturday, at around 3 am, a huge fire broke out at Pimpri police station. According to police, the fire engulfed the area, and reduced 50 scrapped two-wheelers to ashes. Firefighters reached the spot in a few minutes and doused the flames within 40 minutes. When asked about the cause of the fire and the audits at Pimpri police station, Rehman said, “We have sought a report of it and I will be in a position to comment only after the report is out.”

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