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No more high-rise buildings in Pune, till we are fire-ready, pleads fire brigade

One of the basic requirements for any fire brigade to fight fire incidents in high-rise buildings, above 100 metres vertical length, is the number of snorkels it has. A snorkel is a platform or bucket attached onto a mechanically bending arm installed onto a fire truck. This helps the fire brigade officials reach the top where the fire has occurred. However, currently, the city fire department has only two snorkels with them, having capacity to deal with fire incidents up to a vertical limit of 100 metres. 

pune Updated: Sep 04, 2018 17:12 IST
Parth Welankar
Parth Welankar
Hindustan Times, Pune
high-rises,Pune,well-equipped
Vehicular traffic and encroachments block the way of a fire tender in Pune on Friday. (Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)

Sky is the limit, quite literally, for our constantly developing city as it is set to rise further with the Pune municipal corporation (PMC) proposing to allow vertical growth of the city, which is currently restricted at 100 metres. However, this poses a serious problem to the fire brigade of the city and hence, the Pune fire brigade department has advised the civic body to first look towards developing the fire department and only then, allow construction of high-rise buildings.

Why fire tenders do not reach destinations in time
A mock drill conducted by the Pune fire brigade, to which HT was given exclusive access, was delayed by seven minutes because of traffic and wrong parking by private vehicles. The department has written to PMC to solve the issues, but in vain
13 minutes: The time taken for the completion of a 3-km mock drill by Pune fire brigade
5-6 minutes: Ideally time taken for a 3-km run should not be more than 5-6 minutes. However, owing to encroachments and parking problems, operations often get delayed
30 seconds - Time taken to complete steps 1-3
Chief fire officer rings bell
Announcement of location of vehicle inside the station for team members to board.
The vehicle moves out of the station along with an ambulance. It is the next phase which delays most fire brigades from acting promptly.
1 minute- Time taken to complete step 4
The vehicle moves out of the fire station. It takes about a minute to just get on the main road due to vehicles parked on side of road.
6 minutes- Time taken to complete step 5
The vehicle moves to the designated area for the drill, but taking 6 minutes (Rasta peth) to navigate narrow city roads filled with encroachments and wrongly parked vehicles, thus delaying the entire operation.
5 minutes- Time taken to complete step 6
The vehicle takes about 5 minutes to return to the fire station
ILLUSTRATION: SHRIKRISHNA PATKAR/HT

One of the basic requirements for any fire brigade to fight fire incidents in high-rise buildings, above 100 metres vertical length, is the number of snorkels it has. A snorkel is a platform or bucket attached onto a mechanically bending arm installed onto a fire truck. This helps the fire brigade officials reach the top where the fire has occurred. However, currently, the city fire department has only two snorkels with them, having capacity to deal with fire incidents up to a vertical limit of 100 metres.

In an interview to HT, chief fire officer of PMC, Prashant Ranpise, said, “We are not against developing high-rise buildings in the city. However, as we are also one of the major stakeholders while giving the no objection certificates (NOC) to developers, our limitations must also be considered by the civic body.”

Prashant Ranpise, chief fire officer of Pune. (Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)

Ranpise said, “Currently, we have only two snorkels which are used to combat fire incidents if any, for buildings above 70 metres. As of now, there are 25 buildings over 70 metres in the city. However, if the number increases, we will need more snorkels for combat operations.”

Also, these snorkels are stationed in the old city area while most high-rises are located in the suburban part of the city, which can make it difficult for snorkels to reach the destination given congested roads, added Ranpise.

The fire department has cited illegal encroachments and parking problems in the city as one of the major reasons for the delay in reaching their destinations.

Ranpise said, “The civic body has turned a deaf ear to our consistent requests over the years. We have been writing to the PMC since the past three years regarding the delays we are compelled to face owing to illegal encroachments and wrong side parking of private vehicles. However, all the requests made by the fire brigade have gone unheard,” he said.

Pune fire brigade in numbers

Number of fire incidents reported daily: 3-4.

Number of fire stations run by the PMC: 13

Fleet of fire fighting vehicles:

Snorkels: 2

Fire engines: 22

Water mist mini fire tenders: 11

Hydraulics platforms: 3

Rescue vans: 3

Water tankers (with water browser): 10

Ultra-high pressure mission vehicle: 1

Foam tender: 1

Jeeps: 15

Motorcycles: 6

Hearse cars: 3

Ambulances: 7

Fire brigade control room number for Pune: 101

First Published: Sep 03, 2018 14:58 IST