TMC fire Department not well equipped to deal fire in a high rise building

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Despite several instances of building collapse and fire in Thane, the Thane Municipal Corporation fire department is still inept. Rescue operations following a recent fire break-out at Gulmohar building in Sunderban Park of Thane raised serious questions on the functioning of the department, which lacks fire-fighting equipment.

Additional director (town planning), Pradip Gohil, informs, "A host of high-rise buildings are coming up across Ghodbunder Road, Pokharan Road nos1 and 2." He adds, "The plans for these buildings were approved only after having a proper NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the fire department." Although Gohil is sure the plans are approved only after an NOC from the fire department, still the department performs poorly during emergencies, thereby exposing the loopholes in the system.

The residents of Gulmohar Society and those from the nearby areas inform that it took the fire brigade more than an hour to reach the site of the accident and start rescue operations. After the incident, Jaag NGO intervened and their findings suggest the TMC's fire-fighting system needs improvement.

Jagdish Khairalia, a Jaag activist alleges, "TMC fire department does not have the latest equipment and there are not enough trained officials to operate the high-end machines that are lying unused at the fire station. Despite the many fire incidents in the recent past, regular fire audits are not conducted and there are many societies and in Thane where fire brigades cannot enter comfortably, yet nothing is being done for such societies."

AP Mandke, deputy chief officer informs, "We have facilities and trained personnel, too. In addition to that, we have a fire ladder van of 55 meters, which is enough to tackle fire in a 16-storey building. When asked about new buildings coming up in the area, some of which are higher than 20 floors, he choose not to speak and said, "Although there are fire ladder van of 110 meters that can be used in such situations, we don't have them." He added that high rise buildings in Thane come with inbuilt fire fighting systems and all builders get their plans approved before obtaining a commencement certificate, which includes an NOC from various local authorities, including permission from the fire department.

Mandke adds further that there is also a responsibility on part of the residents. Once the society is formed, it is the duty of the society to regularly maintain and keep the fire fighting equipment in good condition. A fire drill needs to be conducted once in every six months in order to test the fire equipment and ensure that it is in good working condition.

Following are the facilities needed to tackle the fire fighting in high rise building:
- High Rise Fire Safety Fire Alarm Systems
- High Rise Emergency Voice Paging
- Fire Alarm Fire Fighters Telephone Systems
- Fire Extinguishers
- High Rise Fire Sprinkler Systems
- Emergency Lights
- Fire Hose and Standpipes
- Security, CCTV, and UniNet Networking
Following equipments are available at the fire station to fight firefighting :
- 55 meter air ladder van
- 40 meter air ladder van
- High pressure pumps
- Fire safety precautions are displayed at all the high rise buildings
Do's and don'ts to prevent fire and protect life:
- All the fire protection installations should be in good condition
- Acquaint yourself about the layout of escaping of emergency exits, stair cases, and location of fire alarm
- In case of fire use only stair case do not use the lift
- Signboards should be displayed at different locations
- Park your vehicle in the parking zone so that fire brigade can easily go to the venue
- Help fire brigade person with all detailed information about the fire
- In case of fire don't panic and do not jump from the building.
- Avoid use of combustible materials at the common corridors, lobbies and flats
- Handle PNG and LPG carefully in the kitchen
- See there is proper ventilation for gas geysers
- Keep match box and light away from the children
- Evacuation grill should be carried out periodically

Important numbers:
Thane Fire Brigade 022 -25331600,25334216,25365202
Wagle Estate 022-25823477,25823547
Kopari 022-25401589 Jawahar Baug 022-25334216,2535202

Loopholes at TMC fire Department
- Only 55 meters high air ladder van available which is not enough to tackle high storey building.
- The fire officials are not well trained to operate high end machines.
Construction work at DP road has been going on for long at Panchpakhadi hence, obstructing the movement of fire brigades from that area.
Regular fire audits are not conducted by the department.

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