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RTO wakes up to fire hazard, take preventive measures

Following mid-day’s report on the alarming lack of fire safety measures at the RTO, the transport authority now has 21 working fire extinguishers

Nearly two months after mid-day first reported that the Pune Regional Transport Office (RTO) had just one expired fire extinguisher to protect its 5,000 daily visitors from fire emergencies (RTO has just one fire extinguisher, August 19), the transport authority has finally taken cognisance of the very real risk, and put 21 functioning extinguishers in place on the premises last week.

Midday report
mid-day's report on August 19

When mid-day had visited the RTO in August, there was no emergency evacuation plan, nor were there any signs pointing towards the nearest exits, and the only extinguisher on the office premises had not been refilled since March 2013. This, after the RTO had already witnessed a fire incident in 2012 due to a short circuit, and a following fire safety audit by the Pune Municipal Corporation. In fact, Regional Transport Officer Jitendra Patil was not even aware of how many fire extinguishers the office had, or where they were kept.

Following mid-day’s report, however, he rolled out a tender request, and has had four fire extinguishers refilled, and 17 new extinguishers installed on the premises at a total cost of Rs 60,000.

“We carried out a survey in the RTO premises and rolled out a tender request in the last week of August, and installed 17 new fire extinguishers in the last week of September, besides refilling four old fire extinguishers,” said Patil.

“In order to ensure that the heaps of paper and all the wooden furniture in the office are safe, we have also got fire buckets filled with sand that will be placed at eight locations,” he said, adding further, “on an average nearly 5,000 people visit Pune RTO every day. Most of the time they are unaware about the nearest exit locations; therefore we will be putting up evacuation sign boards that will display the nearest exit points. Moreover, we will also install fire and smoke detectors which will bring things under control.”

ABCs of fire-fighting

The RTO bought 13 new ABC type extinguishers at R2,500 per cylinder. ABC or multi-purpose extinguishers comprise special fluidised and siliconised monoammonium phosphate, a dry chemical agent. It chemically insulates Class A fires by melting at approximately 350°F and coating the surface to which it is applied. It smothers and breaks the chain reaction of Class B fires while preventing the conduction of electricity in Class C fires with live electrical equipment. The transport authority also bought another four new CO2 type extinguishers at R6,800 per cylinder. CO2 is a liquefied gas that is highly effective in fighting B and C class fires. These extinguishers are ideal for areas where contamination and/or clean-up are a concern, such as data processing centres, labs, telecommunication rooms, food storage and processing areas.

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