The city fire brigade is all set to raise an army of volunteers in the city — its first line of defence — before the brigade officials reach the disaster spot.
In an attempt to gain better control in the first few seconds of a breakout, the brigade wants to raise a volunteer group comprising 70,000 citizens.
Starting May 8, the fire brigade will be training citizens every Sunday in all the six regional command centres — Wadala, Byculla, Marol, Mankhurd, Borivli and Vikhroli. The citizens will be trained in basic fire-fighting techniques, including usage of the building’s inbuilt fire-fighting equipment.
The target is to train about 6,000-7,000 volunteers first, who will, in turn start training in housing societies.
Owing to an increasing number of high-rises and manpower shortage, the fire brigade had begun the volunteer programme in July 2015. Fire officials said the citizen volunteers can help the brigade in the initial fire-fighting before the specialists reach the spot.
Officials have confirmed that the city brigade lags in its response time for emergency situations. While the international norms stand at four minutes maximum, in Mumbai, the time taken to reach the destination is twice the norm (8 to 10 minutes) for the island city and four times for the suburbs (15 to 18 minutes).
In May 2015, a massive fire killed four senior fire officials in Kalbadevi. The brigade took 13 minutes to reach the spot owing to traffic snarls and narrow lanes in the city.
At present, the brigade has 336 registered volunteers, who aid the department in regular fire-fighting.
Prabhat Rahangdale, the chief fire officer of the Mumbai brigade, said, “We want to create a batch of trained volunteers, who can in turn train more citizens.”
The brigade has also roped in Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda as an ambassador to spread the message.