Gurugram: Fire department has no ladder to fight high-rise blazes
In a city where high-rises and residential towers literally stand cheek-by-jowl, the fire department’s need for a 101 metre hydraulic ladder, which they could help them locate and reach the source of a blaze in such structures, has yet again been ignored by the authorities concerned this year.
In its budget for fiscal 2018-’19, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) has not proposed any allocation for such a ladder.
While the Haryana directorate of supplies and disposal has been turning down the fire department’s proposal for such a ladder over the last 10 years, the perceived oversight by the civic body has raised fresh questions on the safety of residents in high-rises and broadly, the city’s response to a fire.
Fire department officials said that the perceived unwillingness or lack of intent to commit funds for the purchase of such a ladder could be attributed to a decision taken by the state government in March 2017, clearing the transfer of the fire department from the ambit of the MCG to that of a newly created body — the Directorate of Fire Service.
“Last year, the state government announced that the process of forming a separate body, integrating all fire stations in the state, which are currently operating under various municipalities or the Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board, will be set in motion. However, this process of transfer and integration is still under way,” IS Kashyap, fire safety officer, said.
A senior MCG official, associated with administrative work with other departments, confirmed the ongoing transfer process saying that with the with the process of transfer and integration already afoot, the MCG has not allocated any funds to the fire department for making such purchases.
“We are in talks with the state government for a possible transfer (of the fire department to the new body) and hence, no funds were allocated to the fire department for upgrading equipment. If the (transfer) situation continues to be in limbo, the MCG will allocate funds (to the fire department for upgrading equipment and infrastructure) in its next budget,” the senior MCG official said.
Kashyap, however, said that the transfer process shouldn’t keep the MCG from “catering to the needs of the fire department”. He said till such time the transfer process is deemed complete, the MCG continues to be responsible for releasing the salaries of the fire department staff and also upgrading its equipment.
MCG commissioner Yashpal Yadav did not comment on the issue.
According to fire department officials, there are a total of 1,169 buildings, over 15 metres tall, in Gurugram. More than 500 of them are said to stand at a height in excess of 50 metres. However, with a solitary hydraulic ladder at its disposal, and that too, one which can only reach up to a height of 42 metres (up to the 14th floor of a building), the fire department is ill-equipped to deal with a blaze in high-rises.
In the event of a fire in buildings more than 42 metre tall, the city fire department has to rely on a private fire department, which has a hydraulic ladder capable of reaching a height of 90m, for assistance. However, the coordination required in seeking such assistance, ends up eating into the rescue time in the event of a fire, officials said.