We fear for our lives every time we enter this building: Firemen

It is not always the paucity of funds that puts important projects on the back burner, but at times it is the lack of willpower exhibited by those in power.

Recipe for disaster: The existing buildings on the premises of the Central Fire Station at Mahatma Phule Peth; (inset) a girder installed to prevent the roof from caving in. Pics/Sachin Thakare

Consider this, the civic body had sanctioned Rs 1.84 crore for renovation of the Central Fire Station at Mahatma Phule Peth in 2010, but only concretisation of the ground has been done since the work commenced in 2011.

The funds were earmarked for demolition of existing two buildings that are supposed to be replaced with two state-of-the-art three-storeyed ones, which will be equipped with a control room.

The existing structures are more than 50 years old. A fireman, requesting anonymity, said, “One of the buildings (on the right side of the entrance) is dilapidated and supported by girders. Repair work has become a daily affair.

We fear for our lives the moment we enter this building. Moreover, washrooms are so poorly maintained that we prefer to sit throughout the shift in our dirty clothes rather than using them.”

More money needed
Chief Fire Officer Prashant Ranpise said in the upcoming financial year they would be resending the renovation plan to the PMC, hoping to get more funds this time.  “It is difficult for firemen to work in such a risky infrastructure.

An additional gate will help firemen disperse quickly, which could be the crucial difference between life and death. When the funds came in 2010, the entire amount was spent on the concretisation work.

This time we need money to complete the entire renovation work. Currently, we are facing several problems while operating from here. These include inadequate space to keep vehicles, a control room which needs an upgrade, and well-maintained washrooms,” he said.

The proposal
Some of the facilities that were supposed to be given to the firemen in the two new buildings were officer quarters, garage for vehicles and workshops, lecture hall, administrative office, dormitories and specially designed and updated control room on keep vigilance of the entire premises.

PMC has selected Darshan Hall in Nana Peth as one of the main fire stations in the heart of the city.  The civic body wants to take over the plot and convert it into a fire station at the earliest.

The other side
V B Ekbote, senior radio technician at PMC and in-charge of the work at the fire station said, “We are following up on the progress of the work at the Central Fire Station, and the concretisation was completed first. Now, we will resubmit the proposal for new tasks, comprising demolition of the two existing buildings and building two new ones.” 

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