The district’s fire department is facing a lack of hands, old equipment and only a few fire stations. With no functional hydraulic platforms and a severe staff crunch, the department is unlikely to be able to do much in case of a major fire in Noida or Greater Noida where a large number of buildings are highrises.
The department’s only hydraulic crane broke during a mock drill last year. Attempts to fix it failed and now the 10-year-old machine is of no use. On Thursday, it took the department one and half hours to douse the fire at a four-storey garment export company’s premises at Sector 58 due to lack of hydraulic cranes.
“We are short of staff and equipment, but we will get the latter soon. By the end of this month, we are likely to get two hydraulic platforms 32 and 42 metres high. They will be able to reach most of the highrises in the city,” said Sunil Kumar Singh, chief fire officer (CFO), Gautam Budh Nagar.
Apart from the two hydraulic platforms, the fire department will also get two new high-pressure ‘water mift’ vehicles. According to officials, these vehicles work like an SUV version of a fire tender and can reach congested areas that fire trucks cannot enter. At present, the department has one such vehicle for both Noida and Greater Noida.
While new equipment may be coming to the fire department, the state government has not increased the department’s personnel strength. The city has 85 fire fighters against the required strength of 350 and the existing force is to be distributed among the new fire stations to come up.
“25 recruits are training with us. We hope some of them will be posted in the district,” said Singh.
Five new fire stations in the district, commissioned a year ago, are yet to be constructed. The Noida authority had given its nod for construction of fire stations at Sector 71, Knowledge Park, Ecotech 1 and 3 and Expressway police station areas. The fire stations at Phase 3 and Ecotech 1 and 2 are temporarily operating with one fire tender near the respective police stations. None of the buildings are completed yet, said a fire department official.
“The building of Sector 71 fire station is about to be completed near Phase 3 police station. It will be fully functional soon. However, at two places – Expressway and Knowledge Park – no structure was constructed. The Noida authority had floated tenders for construction of buildings at these localities last year,” the CFO said.