PMC departments lock horns over maintenance of Rs 2.17 cr firefighting system

Jun 10, 2014, 06:02 IST | Niranjan Medhekar

While the advanced system is ready, the building department and the fire brigade department are at loggerheads, each trying to shirk the responsibility of its upkeep

Prompted by the devastating fire that gutted parts of Mantralaya in state capital Mumbai two years ago, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has, over the past two years, has spent Rs 2.17 crore to install an advanced firefighting system to protect every office in the corporation’s main building at Shivajinagar.

Wasted? 1,400 sprinklers, 1,100 fire detectors and 15 fire hydrants were installed in the PMC HQ. Pic/Mohan Patil

However, the corporation’s building and fire brigade departments have now locked horns over who will take responsibility for its maintenance. The impasse has stalled the handover of the important system.

The firefighting system, which was expected to be functional by the beginning of 2013, has already been delayed by over a year. But, even though the system is now ready to use and the trial run was also recently carried out, it seems that internal politics between the departments is going to delay things further. While the PMC building department was overseeing the installation of the firefighting system, it now wants to hand the system over to the fire brigade department.

“Once we hand it over to the fire brigade, it is their responsibility to operate and maintain the system. They have to appoint two employees to check water tank levels and water hydrants,” said Rajendra Raut, executive engineer of the PMC’s building department.

Meanwhile, R T Shinde, PMC’s deputy commissioner and in-charge of the fire brigade department, said, “It’s the responsibility of the building department to look after the newly established firefighting system in the building.” Informed that the building department expected the fire brigade department to maintain the system, he said, “How can it be possible? Should we focus on the many emergency cases in the city, or appoint part of our workforce to look after the main building’s firefighting system?”

The system

The work of setting up a state-of-the-art firefighting system was started in the PMC building in September 2012, and a deadline of six months had initially been set for the completion of the work. A total of 45 fire extinguishers were installed along with a huge underground water tank with a capacity of 1.2 lakh litres. In addition, 1,400 sprinklers, 1,100 fire detectors and 15 fire hydrants were installed in and around the PMC HQ as per the provisions in the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006.

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