Two days after six firemen died of asphyxia after they were stuck in the elevator of a 14-storey building, the Thane municipal commissioner has sought an inquiry into the incident.
“I have called for a departmental inquiry to be headed by Chief Fire Officer Vijay Vaidya and city engineer K.D. Lala,” said Thane Municipal Commissioner Nandakumar Jantre.
“I have also requested the state government to appoint a senior official for an independent and impartial inquiry.”
On Saturday at 11.28 pm, the Wagle Estate fire station got a call about a top floor flat in Punarvasu building in Tarangan Society, Samatanagar, catching fire after a Diwali rocket landed in the balcony.
Six firemen rushed there and doused the blaze.
At 4.30 am, the station got another call saying the fire had restarted.
By the time the 35-member team reached, the fire had gutted the doors of the other three flats on the floor and thick smoke blanked out all visibility.
While one team took the stairs, another reached the terrace of the adjacent building and the Wagle Estate team comprising lead fireman G.C. Singh and his team — Kishore Patil (45), Tanaji Kale (42), Santosh Shinde (42), Suresh Jamadar (41) and Avdhut Thanekar (40) — took the elevator.
It got stuck on the 14th floor and they died of suffocation.
Both Jantre and Vaidya refused to reveal the cause of the second fire and the reason behind the lift’s malfunction.
“Investigations are on. It is too early to tell what caused the fire or whether the elevator used by the firemen was a fire lift or not and what led to its breakdown,” Jantre said. “We also need to investigate what equipment the firemen were carrying and whether the standing orders were followed.”
“There are technical points that need to be investigated by experts. We don’t have the technical inputs now. We have asked the lift inspector and the electric department for their reports,” he added.
On the ill-equipped aerial ladder (Bronto skylift) with the fire brigade, Jantre said: “There are various ways of fighting fire apart from using the ladder. We have a 40 m ladder and have procured another 52 m one.”
“A building which is more than 25 m high is termed as a high rise... it is mandatory for high rises to have two staircases, of which one be reserved for emergencies,” said Vaidya.
On Tuesday, a condolence meeting was held at the civic headquarters in Panchpakhadi.
Apart from the Rs 5 lakh compensation each for the families of the six deceased firemen from the civic body, civic employees and corporators have pledged their one month’s salary to the six families.
They will also receive Rs 2 lakh each from the chief minister’s relief fund.