To the rescue, but no protective gear
The firemen who rushed to rescue those affected by the chlorine leakage at Sewri on Wednesday ended up in hospitals themselves. The reason: They did not have the gear to protect themselves; they wore just cloth masks.mumbai Updated: Jul 15, 2010 02:33 IST
The firemen who rushed to rescue those affected by the chlorine leakage at Sewri on Wednesday ended up in hospitals themselves.
The reason: They did not have the gear to protect themselves; they wore just cloth masks.
In all, 17 firemen — four from the civic-run fire brigade department and 14 employed with the Mumbai Port Trust — had to be hospitalised for breathlessness, nausea, vomiting and irritation to the eyes.
The firefighters admitted to the hospitals said they did not have protective gear.
“We were given only a cloth mask. After some time we started feeling giddy and breathless,” said a fire officer, requesting anonymity.
“Our safety is always compromised. We have not even been trained in using the few advance equipment our department has,” said another fireman, who also did not wish to be named.
“We have 100 sets of breathing apparatus along with protective uniform clothing, but only a handful of officers have had the training for such incidents,” said a senior fire official, requesting anonymity.
Two of the BMC firemen are in the critical care unit at JJ Hospital.
The municipal corporation admits its firemen are not equipped to deal with gas leaks. “The fire brigade is not trained in handling chemical and biological disasters,” said S.S. Shinde, joint municipal commissioner in-charge of the fire brigade department.
The 13 MbPT firemen have been admitted to the MbPT hospital in Wadala.
“Our quarters are close to the site of the leak. While some of us rushed to the site, others were sleeping,” said a fireman who has been hospitalised, adding that those who went to the site used a cloth mask.
“All the 13 firemen are doing fine, they are under observation,” said Dr J.P. Tamaskar at the Wadala hospital.
Post the deluge on July 26, 2005, the state government had drawn up a disaster mitigation plan that was meant to have special teams to handle such situations.
Clearly, the plan has not taken off.