Kalbadevi blaze: Fire brigade loses its chief

Chief Fire Officer Sunil Nesarikar yesterday succumbed to the burn injuries he had sustained while trying to put out the blaze that consumed Kalbadevi’s Gokul Niwas on May 9; the cause of death is multiple organ failure

The Mumbai fire brigade lost its chief yesterday. Sunil Nesarikar, chief fire officer, breathed his last at the National Burns Centre in Airoli yesterday, after battling for his life with his 50 per cent burn injuries. Nesarikar is the fourth fireman to die due to injuries sustained while trying to douse the blaze in Kalbadevi’s Gokul Niwas earlier this month.

Nesarikar is the fourth fireman to die due to injuries sustained while trying to douse the blaze in Kalbadevi’s Gokul Niwas earlier this month. File pic
Nesarikar is the fourth fireman to die due to injuries sustained while trying to douse the blaze in Kalbadevi’s Gokul Niwas earlier this month. File pic

Nesarikar had 50 per cent level 3 burn injuries after he got trapped in the debris when Gokul Niwas collapsed due to the fire. He had been operated on twice at the Airoli hospital within six hours of being admitted. While doctors said both surgeries had gone well, the sepsis (infection) due to the wounds had wreaked havoc upon Nesarikar’s body.

Sunil Nesarikar was in the middle of a second dialysis when he died due to multiple organ failure
Sunil Nesarikar was in the middle of a second dialysis when he died due to multiple organ failure

“His condition started deteriorating on Saturday. Till that point, he had been responding to treatment and we felt we could save him, despite the severity of his injuries. Though we had already performed surgeries to prevent sepsis, his organs started failing, one by one,” said Dr Sunil Keswani, the doctor who was treating Nesarikar.

Dr Sunil Keswani, of National Burns Centre in Airoli, called Nesarikar a visionary and said he could’ve transformed the fire department
Dr Sunil Keswani, of National Burns Centre in Airoli, called Nesarikar a visionary and said he could’ve transformed the fire department

The fireman had been suffering from pulmonary (lung) issues due to sepsis and had already undergone a dialysis session in the afternoon on Saturday. He was in the middle of a second session when he died due to multiple organ failure in the afternoon yesterday.

Dr Keswani expressed his regret on being unable to save Nesarikar, but said he had pulled out all the stops to try and snatch the fire official from the jaws of death. “Despite it being a Sunday, I had called my entire team of senior doctors, so we weren’t short of hands.

I spent a lot of time with him during his admission period. I prayed for his well-being. He kept saying he had faith in me,” Dr Keswani recalled.

Friend and visionary
Dr Keswani had an emotional bond with Nesarikar, whom he knew for the last ten years and had seen him rise through the ranks of the fire brigade to become its chief. “He was probably the only patient with whom I was emotionally attached,” he said.

The duo had similar interests and would meet occasionally to discuss various topics. The conversation, Dr Keswani recalled, would be strange since both would speak in different tongues. “He had excellent command over English, but being a Maharashtrian, would speak in Marathi.

I can understand Marathi but would fail to put my point across in his language. So, I would answer him in English. We would go on in such a manner for hours,” Dr Keswani lamented. Dr Keswani felt Nesarikar was an officer with the will and vision needed to transform the fire brigade.

“A year ago, he had come to the hospital to talk about skin donation. He had a vision to change the fire brigade. He always talked about how the firefighters and employees need to seek the path of yoga and follow a healthy regime to stay fit and be able to do the duties to their fullest capacities.

During our conversation, he would talk passionately about upgrading the equipment, training programmes, and giving a polished face to the department. Had he stayed a few more years as the CFO, he would have worked wonders for the department,” Keswani told mid-day. Sudhir Amin, deputy chief fire officer, and firemen S W Rane and M N Desai also lost their lives to the Kalbadevi fire.

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