God forbid, if there is a fire in the city!
FIREMEN IN the State capital, who have been facing acute shortage of water as almost all the 125 hydrants are dry, also have no powder, foam, chemicals or carbon dioxide cylinders required to extinguish fire involving chemicals, petroleum products, plastic or other highly inflammable items used in computers, false roofing etc.india Updated: May 15, 2006 01:19 IST
FIREMEN IN the State capital, who have been facing acute shortage of water as almost all the 125 hydrants are dry, also have no powder, foam, chemicals or carbon dioxide cylinders required to extinguish fire involving chemicals, petroleum products, plastic or other highly inflammable items used in computers, false roofing etc.
Officials of the Fire Services here admitted that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for the firemen in Lucknow to control a fire in a chemical factory, depots storing huge quantity of petroleum products, oil or a shop or house where highly inflammable plastic or other products were stored.
Increasing number of multi-storey complexes and huge shopping malls are another serious cause of concern as minimum fire precautions are not taken during their construction and now even the power of issuing a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for such huge complexes has been snatched away from the Fire Services.
Aware of the prevailing poor infrastructure of the fire services and in a bid to develop their own fire fighting system, several private organisations have bought fire tenders and deputed trained firemen to deal with any exigency in their respective establishments in the State capital. With six fire tenders of its own, the Sahara Group was first to have their private fire fighting system while the TELCO, HCL, Mohan Meakins also have their own systems to deal with any fire exigency. These private fire tenders are available to the firemen on request.
However, the firemen say that the efficiency of fire tenders owned by private sector was not up to the mark as their firemen were neither well-trained nor well-equipped to deal with any big fire though they could play an important role in controlling the fire from spreading further.
To save water, the Lucknow Fire Services officials are now contemplating to buy equipment known as High Velocity System through which ‘water mist’ is sprayed instead of water.
The ‘water mist’ made of 400 liters of water is enough to extinguish a fire which otherwise needs 4000 liters of water.
The Lucknow Fire Services has only ten fire tenders, including one each deployed in rural areas of Bakshi Ka Talab and near the SGPGI, for the whole city of Lucknow and its rural areas. The Hazratganj and Chowk fire stations have underground water tanks with one lakh liter capacity each while the Indira Nagar fire station water tank has the capacity of 50,000 liters. “The fire tenders have no other source of water as hydrants, established during the British Rule, are dry”, rued a senior officer of the Fire Services.
There should be at least one fire tender and eight firemen on every population of 50,000 as per recommendations of the Fire Advisory Committee of the Government of India, he said, adding that the added responsibilities of law and order and VVIP duties were other problems faced by the department which was also facing serious financial crunch.
Almost all the fire tenders were pressed into service at different places in the city during the last visit of the President of India when the riots broke out in Aminabad and parts of the Old Lucknow but there were no fire tenders to control the situation. This resulted in huge losses, the officer disclosed.
When such was the situation in the State capital, one could well guess the poor infrastructure in districts and rural areas. As per provision of the Act, a fire officer should be there in every district but the situation was that there were only 11 chief fire officers to take care of 70 districts. It is a mockery that the Fire Services is nobody’s baby as it has not been included in the ongoing police modernisation programme on the plea that it is not part of the police department and comes under the Department of Natural Calamities while for all practical and administrative purposes it works under the DGP!