Mumbai civic body steps in to end turf war between fire brigade, NDRF | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Mumbai civic body steps in to end turf war between fire brigade, NDRF

BMC officials to ensure agencies cooperate with each other during for rescue operations at disaster sites

mumbai Updated: Apr 18, 2018 11:46 IST
Sagar Pillai
Mumbai Fire Brigade officers carry out rescue operation at the site of the Sai Siddhi building collapse in Ghatkopar in July 2017. The collapse killed 17 people.
Mumbai Fire Brigade officers carry out rescue operation at the site of the Sai Siddhi building collapse in Ghatkopar in July 2017. The collapse killed 17 people. (HT FILE )

In order to sort out differences between the two rescue agencies in the city -- Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) -- the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has called the chiefs of both the agencies to collectively decide a standard operating procedure (SOP) to carry out rescue operations at disaster sites. The procedure will focus on guidelines for rescue operations, ensuring cooperation between the two teams and taking charge of the rescue operation in question depending upon their expertise. Apart from this, the SOP will also involve deployment of NDRF and Fire Brigade officials at sensitive spots during monsoons. The meeting is expected to be held this week.

Apparently, heated arguments between MFB and NDRF during the rescue operations were witnessed by the locals at the tragic Sai Siddhi building collapse at Ghatkopar, which claimed the lives of 17 people. However, both the teams denied arguing with each other and said there was just some confusion between the teams, which was immediately cleared. The incident took place on July 25 last year.

The two agencies, who have had their differences over leading rescue operations at disaster sites, have been directed by BMC to conduct a meeting and frame the SOP along with a pre-monsoon planning for disaster management. IA Kundan, additional municipal commissioner, said, “I need to ensure there is a healthy coordination between the teams since our focus is to save lives. I have asked both of the teams to sort out their differences and focus on SOPs for rescue operations.”

It was observed by BMC that since MFB has its presence in all the areas of the city it is the first to reach disaster sites, whereas, the NDRF is only stationed in Andheri and gets delayed while reaching a disaster site. However, the civic body is well aware about who should lead the charge. Kundan added, “The NDRF has expertise in handling building collapse and floods.”

Anupam Srivastava, commandant of NDRF, said, “We have been asked by BMC to frame SOP for rescue operations to avoid confusion. Since the NDRF takes time to reach the disaster sites considering it is located in Andheri, we are deciding upon some standard rules.” BMC has directed both the teams to have smoother coordination to carry out the operations.

Srivastava added, “The first team to reach the disaster site will distribute the area (determine which agency controls which part of the disaster site), which will be followed by the other team. Sites where the risk level is high will be handled by NDRF. Also, our officials will be deployed at fire stations, schools and police stations that are close to sensitive spots.”

Both the rescue teams have their own experts that are deployed on the disaster site to handle fire disasters, tree collapse, building collapse and floods. A senior official from BMC’s disaster management team said, “Maharashtra is a multi-disaster prone state. It is vulnerable to natural disasters like floods, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides as well as man-made disasters like fire and building collapses. The NDRF has been constituted at the national level for effective response to such disasters.”

During the monsoon season, the city witnesses several disaster calls like tree falls, flooding and building collapse. The deployment of the teams will be done during this time in order to have a quick response to disaster calls.