After facing flak for its slow response to fire emergencies, the Mumbai fire brigade is now turning to technology to fight fires.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is looking at proposals from a few firms to modernise the fire brigade’s communication network. The fire brigade will now get alerts faster, get to the scene sooner and will also review their handling of the emergency through recorded videos.
This could mean a big leap forward for the fire department, which has been struggling with an outdated system to alert them about fires: people still dial 101, and the fire brigade has no way to check if an alert is a hoax.
Fire brigade officials were guarded in their opinion about the working efficiency of the system.
“We have received the proposals and are in the process of studying them. We will go ahead only after conducting a feasibility study,” said Suhas Joshi, chief fire officer.
The system proposes to install a hi-tech set up comprising a fire alert unit in each building in the city.
Building plans and address would be fed into the unit, which would be displayed in the control room once the unit is activated after an alert.
Experts are of the opinion that the fire brigade is in need of an overhaul.
“Looking at the current state of affairs, an enhanced communication set up is necessary to upgrade the fire brigade. But it should be implemented only after the implications and costs are thoroughly looked into,” said DM Sukhtankar, former municipal commissioner. Corporators too have been pushing for a reform of the fire brigade.
“There is no doubt that the city is in need of an enhanced firefighting set up. All kinds of proposals must be meticulously screened and a decision to adopt a modernised system should be fast-tracked,” said Rais Sheikh, Samajwadi Party group leader in the BMC.
The new system will connect each building in the city with fire stations and control rooms.
Firefighters will now get information about building layouts, the route to the location of the fire and even live feeds.
A fire alert unit will be installed in each building in the city. The unit will have a video camera, two-way audio channel and an emergency call point to send alerts
Command control rooms and fire engines will be revamped and equipped with GPS-enabled software and display units