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BMC to spend Rs 3.5 crore to repair Rs 3 crore fire engine!

Next month, the BMC will send a snorkel ladder-fitted fire engine to Finland to get it restored for a whopping Rs 3.5 crore. Purchased for Rs 3 crore in 1998, the vehicle doused the fire at the Taj Mahal Hotel terror attack in 2008 and the Mantralaya blaze in 2012. The BMC, however, says it will be money well spent, as a new machine will cost Rs 6 crore

One of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) oldest, most prized and celebrated snorkel ladder-fitted fire trucks is soon going to sail the seven seas to Finland for urgent repairs. The vehicle, part of the city’s fire department’s fleet, was used extensively to douse the fire at the Taj Mahal Hotel during the 2008 terror attack, commissioned into service during the devastating fire at the Mantralaya in 2012 as well as the fire that damaged the Jolly Maker Towers in Cuffe Parade in 2013.

The snorkel ladder-fitted fire engine will be shipped to Finland in the last week of July.
The snorkel ladder-fitted fire engine will be shipped to Finland in the last week of July. Pic/Suresh KK

So highly does the BMC and the fire department value their favourite fire engine, that they are going to spend a whopping Rs 3.5 crore to repair the vehicle —R50 lakh more than what it cost them to buy the truck in 1998.

“It has to be shipped to Finland, since these machines can only be repaired by the company that makes them. Their workshop is in Finland,” a senior BMC official told sunday mid-day.

The fire truck has a leakage in the hydraulic system, needs oiling and has a few other technical problems.
The fire truck has a leakage in the hydraulic system, needs oiling and has a few other technical problems. Pic/Suresh KK

This machine reportedly has a leakage in the hydraulic system, needs oiling and has a few other technical problems. It is currently stationed at the Nariman Point fire station.

But is it worth repairing the machine at such a high cost? According to BMC’s own experts, the average life of a snorkel fire machine is 25 years. This particular snorkel ladder can go up to a height of 42 metres and was one of the tallest in possession of the city’s fire department when it was bought, way back in 1998.

Speaking to sunday mid-day, a senior BMC official said a new snorkel fire apparatus would cost in excess of R6 crore, so repairing the older vehicle was a cost-effective option. “It will be as good as new when it comes back,” he told this newspaper. The snorkel will be shipped to Finland in the last week of July to the same firm that had sold the vehicle to BMC in 1998. As of this week, work is on to get various permissions to ship it out of the country, after an approval from BMC’s standing committee.

Usually, these vehicles have a life of around 25 years, though major repairs such as the one being proposed now, can bring down life expectancy.

Speaking to smd, fire department officials though, claimed the ladder was “working fine,” but since it wan’t used too often in the past 10 months, it needed repairs.

According to another BMC official, climatic conditions in Mumbai also played a role in causing damage to the vehicle. He added that it could “only be repaired where they are made.”

When contacted, Sanjay Deshmukh, additional municipal commissioner, under whose jurisdiction the city fire department comes, said, “We will be shipping the snorkel to Finland as it needs urgent repairs. It is one of the oldest snorkels we have, bought in the late ‘90s. The proposal has been passed by the standing committee and currently we are getting permissions to ship the vehicle to its makers.”

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