While citizens and the Mumbai Fire Brigade are yet to decide between themselves on who is more responsible for fire safety measures in the city, there’s no sign of a real solution — a special cell that carries out fire-safety inspections in buildings. Officials say it will take at least a year for this wing to be formed.
In September this year, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had announced that it would create a second wing of the Mumbai Fire Brigade, one that would only focus on carrying out inspections and ensuring that all buildings in the city adhere to fire safety norms.
It’s been two months since then, but sources within the fire brigade say hardly any steps have been taken towards the creation of this wing. “We are already short-staffed so we will first fill up the vacancies in the fire-fighting wing. Only then will we begin a new recruitment procedure for the second wing,” said a senior fire brigade official based in the head office at Byculla.
The second wing is slated to comprise 100 fire brigade officials, who will specialise in detecting violations of the Fire Safety Act.
Suhas Joshi, chief fire officer of the Mumbai Fire Brigade said, “We are currently processing the paperwork for this wing. We will have to recruit new fire-fighters who will then undergo training for six months where they will be trained in fire-fighting and detecting violations.”
While Joshi refused to provide a time-frame, a senior deputy fire officer said this cell would take at least a year to come into force.
As a result, city buildings are not inspected for fire-preparedness often enough. Currently, the fire brigade has 76 designated officers that carry out inspections. Each officer is expected to inspect at least one building a week, but aren’t often able to do so because of a staff crunch at the office.