Mumbai needs 25 more fire stations, reveals report

Jan 02, 2018, 16:50 IST | Laxman Singh

A 2013 study said Mumbai needed 25 more fire stations, as of Jan 1, 2018; not even one recruitment has been done

Firefighters put out an LPG cylinder fire, which is a major risk in slums
Firefighters put out an LPG cylinder fire, which is a major risk in slums

If you're wondering why there have been so many fire disasters in Mumbai in recent years, here's your answer. As far back as 2011, the BMC had conducted risk assessment studies highlighting how vulnerable the city was to fire mishaps, and how desperately it needed an upgrade of the fire brigade. In 2013, the civic bobody suggested adding 25 fire stations, which would have required around 250 more fire-fighters. Five years on, none of these measures has seen the light of day.

The 97-page report, titled 'Urban Fire Hazard & Risk Assessment and Mitigation for Mumbai' mentioned several at-risk areas in the city. The then joint municipal commissioner SS Shinde had sent the report to the state government, along with a list of recommendations to make the city fire- and earthquake-safe. Speaking to mid-day, the now retired Shinde said, "The purpose of the report was to also lay down guidelines for fire officials to implement the Maharashtra Fire Prevention & Life Safety Measure Act effectively. The report pointed out that fire is a major hazard to the city that needs a comprehensive approach to its management."

A senior civic official said, "The fire brigade had sought R11 crore for an upgrade in firefighting services. However, there was no response from the state on the proposal. Instead, the state asked the BMC to look into upgrading the fire department."

Need fire stations
Mumbai currently has 34 fire stations, but these are not enough to combat the city's growing needs. Five years ago, in another report, the BMC had suggested building 25 additional fire stations to boost the city's firefighting abilities. The civic body further proposed procuring adequate fire engines, water tankers and ambulances for the new fire stations. In addition, each of the new fire stations would require a manpower of at least 10 firefighters, which means the authorities would have to hire around 250 recruits. Disappointingly, however, the authorities have not followed through on these recommendations. Only now, five years later, has the proposal to build 25 fire stations been added to the draft Development Plan 2034.

Nowhere is safe
According to the risk assessment report, Mumbai faces practically every type of fire risk. In the island city, the greatest threat comes from the old timber buildings that are all closely built, making it easy for a fire to spread. Localities like Kalbadevi, Mumbadevi, Bhuleshwar, Bhendi Bazar, CP Tank and Dharavi are residential areas, but many commercial activities go on there, putting the residents at risk.

Fire brigade says
An official from Mumbai Fire Brigade said, "The BMC has purchased the country's tallest snorkel van, which can reach 90 metres, which is about 30 storeys high." The official added, "Also, last year, hundreds of firefighters were recruited. We have enough budget provision, and are not dependent on the state for funds." The state government could not be reached for comment.

34 No. of fire stations in Mumbai
25 No. of additional fire stations needed

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