While the government bureaus in the city have cleaned up their act in terms of their fire safety measures after the Mantralaya blaze, a few stragglers still remain way behind. Two weeks after the incident that shook the city, the Western Railway has still not realised the danger.
While there is a firefighting pump installed at the General Manager building, it is missing something, without which it is useless — the crucial main pipe, which connects the pump to other pipelines in the building.
According to a railway official from Western Railway, the building is not prepared for any fire emergencies. “The fire that took place at Mantralaya was a big incident and our seniors should have learnt a lesson and ensure that the pump is in working condition. The pump had been installed in 2007, but the main pipe that connects to the pump has still not been connected. This work should be done by the engineering department,” said the official.
MiD DAY also visited the GM building with former chief fire officer, Kiran Kadam, immediately after the fire at Mantralaya. Kadam found that corridors of the building had enough space to walk freely and that they allowed an escape route for people, also leaving space for rescuers to rush in during an emergency. However, he was not satisfied with the numerous wooden partitions that would effectively turn offices into tinderboxes in case of a fire.
He also found that the fire extinguishers were old or damaged. He told MiD DAY, “I doubt that any of the equipment would work during an emergency.”
Though the pump was set up almost six years ago, the main pipe, which should be connected to the pump machine, and then to the other pipes in the building, has still not been fixed.
“The pipes are spread across the entire building to combat fire emergencies. All things are in place and the electrical work has also been completed, but due to the pipe not being connected, nothing will work during a fire,” the official said.
The GM building, also known as the Heritage building is largely a wooden structure. “The pump will collect water from the water tanker below, but if the main pipe is disconnected, then how will water be supplied to pipes installed in the building for fire emergencies?” asked the official.
In the year 2007, three pumps were installed, one at Mumbai Central, Badhwar Park and the third at the GM building in Churchgate.
Nitin David, PRO, WR, claims that they have a separate water tanker in the building. “This (the water pump) is outdated and we have given a proposal for installation of fire fighting system including new water hydrants, which is under progress.”