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How and why fire brigades failed when Panchkula was burning

Outstation fire vehicles didn’t have local staffer to help in navigating routes; police abdication and vehicles not properly equipped were cited as reasons

india Updated: Aug 27, 2017 11:22 IST
Gagandeep Jassowal
Gagandeep Jassowal
Hindustan Times, Panchkula
Ram Rahim,Ram Rahim rape verdict,Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
There were 25 fire vehicles stationed in Panchkula and 13 of them were from others districts. The fire vehicles were set on fire by the mob in Sectors 3 and 5.(HT Photo)

What went wrong with the fire brigades in Panchkula? Even as two fire vehicles were set on fire, the other ones stationed at various hot spots in the town failed to act on time after the mob went on rampage and burned many vehicles, including those of journalists, on Friday.

There were 25 fire vehicles stationed in Panchkula and 13 of them were from others districts. The fire vehicles were set on fire by the mob in Sector 3 and 5, as the local police and people ran for cover.

But,the other fire brigades failed to the act on time at douse the fire across the city, because nearly half of the fire vehicles stationed were from other districts and their staff were not familiar with the local routes.

The outside staff had requested the Panchkula station to deploy one local employee with each outside vehicle, but this was not accepted.

SS Malik, fire station officer, Panchkula, evaded the question of not deploying local fire man with outstation vehicles.

The first incident had taken place at Sector 3, near Tau Devi Lal Stadium, where fire vehicle from Kurukshetra was stationed and four firefighters – Tarsem, Suresh Kumar, Suraj Mal and Sherpal – were deployed.

Tarsem (33), said, “We were trapped by the mob later and pleaded to them to not set the vehicle on fire, but they poured the petrol on the vehicles, while we were ran into the Tau Devi Lal Stadium. Our safety jackets and documents were also gone with the vehicle.”

Another fire vehicle set on fire was at Sector 5 after the police gave up in front of the dera followers. This vehicle was from Faridabad fire station and Achhe Lal, Sunil Kumar and Surinder Kumar were deployed with it.

Achhe Lal, a driver, said, “We were using water canon on dera followers around 4.15pm near Hafed Chowk. Later the mob turned towards their vehicle and burnt it by putting the petrol, while we saved our lives with great difficulty.

A fire department employee told Hindustan Times, on the condition of anonymity, that they were doing duty, but the police failed to protect them as when the dera followers started violence, the police ran away from the spot, giving a free run for the mob.

A source said fire vehicles were not well-equipped as they don’t have iron net in front of the main windshield and that’s also a reason that they became easy targets and could not function to their potential.

First Published: Aug 27, 2017 11:22 IST