Plan to upgrade Ludhiana’s fire infra doused by admn neglect
Despite the administration’s claims to upgrade the city’s fire-fighting infrastructure, nothing concrete has been done in years.
Due to this apathy, firefighters continue to endanger their lives. In the past, many have sustained injuries while nine had died while dousing the flames in 2017.
Earlier in February, a city-level technical committee, a component of the smart city mission, had approved a project worth ₹25 crore to upgrade the fire brigade. Yet seven months later, the plan remains to be on paper only. Due to this, the ill-equipped firefighters are forced to brave the blazes without proper safety.
When quizzed, the authorities said the project was still at the tendering stage and the new equipment would take some time to reach.
As part of the infrastructure enhancement, the fire department is working to purchase hydraulic platform, water bowser, fire safety suits, life/heat detectors, advanced rescue tender, mini fire tender, multiple gas detectors, hydraulic combi tool, victim location camera with breaching system, quick response vehicle, inflatable lighting tower, portable fire pump and communication system at fire stations.
Even as high-rise structures have mushroomed in the city over the years and factory fires take place frequently, the department has functioned without hydraulic ladders, an essential part of the fire-fighting equipment. On top of this, the firefighters have to cover their faces with wet cloth to avoid asphyxiation as they don’t have fire safety suits.
“Every time we ask the authorities about the equipment, we are told that the department is working on the same and it would be provided soon. We do not even have fire safety suits to save ourselves. Apart from the equipment, the department also needs to conduct recruitment as the fire brigade is facing acute staff shortage,” said a firefighter.
In October last year, a fireman had sustained injuries after the roof of a five-decade-old house collapsed due to a fire outbreak in the building near Neem Chowk in the old city area.
Four firefighters had suffered burn injuries while dousing a fire in Vijay Nagar here in 2017, while nine had lost their lives on the job at a plastic factory that collapsed in November 2017. Total 16 people had died in the plastic unit blaze.
Previously, chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and former local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu had made tall claims about upgrading the fire services, but to no avail.
Municipal commissioner, Pardeep Sabharwal said, “The project to upgrade the fire brigade was part of the agenda tabled in the meeting of the city-level technical committee held last week. While tenders have been floated for procurement of new equipment, there are a few items for which we need approval from the state level committee. The fire brigade would be upgraded soon.”
As many as 333 fire incidents were reported in 2019, 394 in 2018, 324 in 2017, 860 in 2016, 281 in 2015 and 580 in 2014. The maximum number of fires (1,098) was reported in the year 2010, as per the data available since 2004. This year, over 135 fire incidents have been reported in the city so far.