While the structural audit, ordered by the BMC last year, declared eight fire stations to be dilapidated, the fire department is still waiting for a report by another auditor before they start the repair work
The fire at Andheri’s Lotus Business Park might have made authorities at the fire department pay attention to upgrading their equipment and machinery. However, since last year, eight fire stations and staff quarters are still waiting for basic repairs, after a structural audit declared them to be dilapidated.
The dilapidated building of Mandvi fire station is currently being supported by bamboo structures. Pic/Sameer Markande
After the Dockyard building collapse in September 2013, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had ordered a structural audit of every building that was more than 30 years old. The audit of the fire stations began in October.
Out of the 33 fire stations in Mumbai, 21 were under scrutiny for audit and eight buildings fire stations and staff quarters were declared dilapidated. These are Colaba, Mandvi, Indira dock, Memonwada, Raoli camp, Byculla, Marol and Deonar fire stations.
The Mandvi fire station, which was reconstructed 15 years ago, has been closed down for repairs again, and the equipment and manpower has been temporarily shifted to Indira dock, which is also deteriorating. While the staff quarters at Indira dock, Memonwada, Byculla, and Marol have been declared dilapidated, people continue to work there, supporting the structure with bamboo sticks.
Only four fire stations
Towards south, the condition of fire stations is even worse out of 10 fire stations, six have been declared dilapidated. Shifting the equipment and manpower would only increase the response time not to mention traffic snarls that make it much harder for fire engines to reach within the standard time of less than five minutes.
A few days ago, the BMC decided to purchase three snorkel vehicles for firefighting to use in high-rise buildings. However, the crumbling structures are unable to accommodate the new vehicles. “Instead of buying new vehicles, they should concentrate on repairing the fire stations,” said a fire brigade officer.
Unsatisfied with the first audit, the BMC had ordered another one by the Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), which has been delayed by 10 days. “We were supposed to get the report by July 30, but it will now be submitted next week. After that, we will finalise the shifting and repair work,” informed another fire official.
“The preliminary report of VJTI has been positive. Next week, after we have the detailed analyses, we will take a decision on the repair and shifting. For now, we have added external support to buildings, to prevent building collapses,” said P S Rahangdale, deputy chief fire officer.