In an embarrassment for the Mumbai fire brigade, several defects have been found in the newly purchased 16 “high tech” and “advanced” fire engines procured at the cost of Rs 16.5 crore.
The problems came to light after firemen started taking trials of the fire engines and complained about the glitches. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had spent Rs16.5 crore to replace the old engines of the fire brigade.
The civic body had claimed that the new fire engines will make firefighting more efficient and response time will be reduced so that loss of life and property can be minimised.
However, with the complaints pouring in about defects in vehicles, the fire brigade has now been forced to call the engineers of the company, which provided engines and asked them to do repair work.
Leakage in water tank with capacity of 4,500 liters, glitches in pumps and pressure valve, no proper space created to put ladders, door lock and no clear water-level indication were the few defects found by firemen and drivers during the trial run.
Last week, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, BJP city unit chief Ashish Shelar, mayor Snehal Ambekar and other political leaders inaugurated the fire engines.
Significantly, the problems were reported in almost all the fire engines. A fireman who was involved in taking trial of the vehicles said, “The bodies of the fire engines are not up to the mark. We have informed our superiors about the glitches we faced while operating. These problems will affect our firefighting in case of any incident.”
A source from the civic body said, “Fearing these problems would have been exposed, the fire brigade has chosen not to do proper demonstration of how engines will work before the guests. Only ribbon was cut by Uddhav Thackeray and a single fire tender was taken a round.”
The Opposition leader in the BMC, Devendra Amberkar, slammed the civic body over the faulty fire engines.
“We are paying Rs 1 crore per engine and getting defected vehicles. Before accepting the vehicles our officers should have checked them properly. There should be an inquiry into the matter and the contractor and officer concerned should be punished.”
A senior fire brigade official said, “There are minor glitches in the vehicles and they will
be repaired soon by the engineers of the company. The leakages were found in a few engines.”