Sudhir Amin's legacy: Firemen are now treated in pvt hospitals

May 15, 2015, 07:36 IST | Sachin Unhalekar

The deputy chief fire officer, who passed away yesterday, had given Rs 1 lakh from his own pocket to ensure that an injured colleague was admitted to a private hospital which was turning him away in 2008; the selfless gesture shamed the BMC into finally making emergency funds available last year

When Deputy Fire Officer Sudhir Amin  passed away yesterday from injuries sustained in last week’s Kalbadevi blaze, the fire department and the city lost someone who was known not just for being brave, but also selfless.

RIP: Thanks to Amin, the fire department now has 18 ATM cards with a limit of Rs 2 lakh each to be used for the treatment of injured firemen
RIP: Thanks to Amin, the fire department now has 18 ATM cards with a limit of Rs 2 lakh each to be used for the treatment of injured firemen

It was this selflessness that shamed the BMC into ensuring that higher-ups in the fire department were finally given emergency funds last year for the treatment of injured firemen, who would, until then, be turned away by private hospitals as they couldn’t afford the fees.  

Also Read: Kalbadevi fire: Third braveheart fireman passes away

Helping hand
In 2008, fire officer Abhay Mohite (35) had been injured in a tree-falling incident while on duty at Nariman Point and had been denied admission to the private Bombay Hospital because his family did not have money. Amin, who was an assistant divisional fire officer at the time, had paid R1 lakh from his own pocket for Mohite’s treatment.

Kavita Sangrulkar, Mohite’s sister, said, “Bombay Hospital had denied him admission because we did not have money. At that time, Amin paid Rs 1,00,000 from his own ATM card (pocket). Amin and my brother had good relations. He used to visit my brother.”

16 more firemen could have died in Kalbadevi blaze: Acting fire chief

Mohite was admitted to the hospital and treatment was begun only after Amin made the payment. Even though Mohite did not survive, the incident raised awareness about the fact that private hospitals deny treatment to firemen for want of money.

This incident prompted the BMC to make emergency funds available to its firemen, all thanks to Sudhir Amin. Former Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar had taken the initiative for the project, which involved issuing ATM cards to access an account set up in the name of the fire department for the purpose.

A disagreement between the banks and BMC, however, led to the plan being delayed. While the BMC wanted the ATM cards to be issued in the name of the department and not individuals, banks maintained that the cards could not be issued in the name of an organisation.

Also Read: Mumbai Fire Brigade falls behind on Central norms

This disagreement ended on September 2014, when a decision was taken to issue the ATM cards in the names three people each in each of the six zones that the fire department — the Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Divisional Fire Officer and the Assistant Divisional Fire Officer.

The city’s fire brigade, thus, has 18 such ATM cards, with a high limit of Rs 2 lakh each.

Tearful farewell, guard of honour for braveheart

Sudhir Amin’s sisters were planning a surprise birthday celebration for him for his 50th birthday on July 17.

But Amin did not live to see the day.

Firemen salute Amin’s body as his family members bid him goodbye. PICS/BIPIN KOKATE
Firemen salute Amin’s body as his family members bid him goodbye. Pics/Bipin Kokate

The deputy chief fire officer of the Mumbai fire brigade who had suffered 90% burns in the Kalbadevi fire outbreak, succumbed to his injuries around 4.15 pm yesterday.

He was given a guard of honour at 8 pm at the Byculla fire station in the presence of several dignitaries — including MLA Bala Nandgaonkar, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, Deputy Mayor Alka Kerkar — and Amin’s grieving family.

Every eye was moist on the premises of the fire station when Amin’s body was brought in for the guard of honour. Amin’s family was inconsolable, with his sisters chanting ‘Sudhir...Sudhir...’ constantly. His wife Sharmila’s grief knew no bounds while his young, bewildered children broke into tears on seeing the elders in the family crying. Amin’s son is in Std III while his daughter is in kindergarten.

The second of five children, Amin took up the family’s responsibility and started working in the fire brigade in January 1991. Amin married only after his four siblings got married, said Shravani Manore, a family friend.

Huge loss
Amin was part of the rescue team in the wake of the 26/11 attacks and had also got the President’s medal for bravery. “He was a brave person and a very dear friend. It is a major loss for the Mumbai fire brigade and all of us who work closely with them. In fact, I had met him just last week... I don’t understand how this happened,” said I C Chaddha, deputy chairman of the Mumbai Port Trust.

“Sir was a jolly person... He used to smile a lot. He would come to us and ask us to open our tiffins, and then would come and have lunch with us. I'm avoiding even looking at his picture right now. It is hard to believe he is no more,” said fire brigade official Sanjay Manjrekar.

Amin, who had joined the service as assistant officer in 1991, had been promoted as deputy chief fire officer while he was undergoing treatment, 17 months after the promotion was first proposed.

Amin passed away around 4.15 pm at the National Burns Centre in Airoli. The death is said to have been caused due to multiple organ failure. He was reportedly in the ICU on ventilator support when his condition began to deteriorate.

The fire officer had been severely injured in the blaze that took consumed a Kalbadevi building on Saturday. He suffered 90% fourth-degree burns throughout his body, except for the chest and abdomen area. His respiratory tract was also damaged due to the inhalation of smoke, since he had been stuck in debris.

“The damage to Amin’s health was more grievous, as he was trapped under the debris for almost two hours. Chief Fire Officer Sunil Nesarikar was stuck for 15 minutes,” said the treating doctor, Dr Keswani, from the National Burns Centre. Nesarikar’s condition is said to be critical.

24: The number of years Deputy Chief Fire Officer Sudhir Amin served the fire department

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