After lakhs are spent on upkeep, skylift conks out

The massive skylifts in possession of the civic body’s fire department do not inspire much confidence these days. Snorkel, one of the four, broke down right in front of Pune Municipal Corporation’s office yesterday.

Acting up: Snorkel, one of the four fire brigade skylifts of civic body’s fire brigade, broke down at the premises of Pune Municipal Corporation’s headquarters yesterday, after it had been brought there to help in the pruning of some trees

Astounding, considering just a few months ago the fire department had spent lakhs of rupees on its maintenance. Even more disquieting is the fact that only one of the four vehicles is in working condition.

Snorkel had pulled in near the civic body’s headquarters to help trim some trees when it malfunctioned around 11 am. It stood rooted to the spot for over two hours. Sources from the fire brigade said that Snorkel has been facing many technical problems in recent times and often shuts down during routine test drives.

It had stopped in its tracks four days ago too. The four skylifts the fire brigade has comprises two Brantos (with 42-metre and 70- metre ladders), Cela (42 metres), and Snorkel (32 metres). Cela is jammed owing to a technical glitch. In January, the tyres of Branto (42 metres) burst at Krishna Rao Dhole chowk near Seven Loves Hotel, and is yet to be repaired. Only the 72-metre Branto is operative.

Meanwhile, Saibaba Jilhewar, fire brigade’s station manager at Kothrud, who was present during yesterday’s incident, refuted all the allegations. “The skylift broke down owing to a minor battery problem. The battery was replaced and it became functional in a short while. Snorkel is a 20-year-old vehicle, but still in working condition.”

Pramod Suryavanshi, a mechanic from the fire department, confirmed that Cela, Snorkel and Branto are acting up. “We have made our requirements regarding the maintenance of these vehicles known. The Branto requires specialised tyres. This is the responsibility of the vehicle department and tendering procedure has already begun.

The Cela’s sensors are out of order. The vehicle is still within the warranty period, so we will get free service from the company,” he added. “Snorkel is a well-maintained vehicle; we got it repaired recently. The vehicle should be regularly operated to keep it in good condition. We have instructed our officers to use Snorkel. The others vehicles have minor problems and will be back in shape in a month,” said chief fire officer Prashant Ranpise.

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