Delhi fire chief identifies traffic jams as biggest challenge

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New Delhi | Published: June 19, 2016 11:13:25 AM

A CAG report tabled last week in the Assembly said the Delhi Fire Service is grappling with an overall manpower shortage of 42 per cent and requires 12 more fire stations as against its sanctioned strength of 70.

Contrary to the CAG’s observation that lack of new fire stations is affecting its operations, Delhi Fire Brigade chief G C Mishra has identified traffic congestion as the biggest challenge confronting fire services, while playing down the need for new stations.

Average response time in fire incidents have extended up to over 9 minutes as against 3-5 minutes, which is considered ideal, due to traffic congestion in the city, Mishra said.

A CAG report tabled last week in the Assembly said the Delhi Fire Service is grappling with an overall manpower shortage of 42 per cent and requires 12 more fire stations as against its sanctioned strength of 70.

The report said the response time of DFS was not at par with prescribed norms.

“Even if we come up with fire stations at a distance of 1 km, it will not reduce the response time to 3 minutes. Also, the land for building new fire stations is not available in Delhi,” Mishra told PTI.

“What is the point in building fire stations in Najafgarh and Bawana, areas located in the fringes of the city. It is not going to reduce the response time,” he said.

Earlier we used to face problems only during peak hours but now congestion period is increasing, he said.

On a lighter note, he said the DFS is happy with the odd-even scheme which had reduced the response time by approximately 25 per cent.

“I can’t say whether pollution was reduced or not. The Odd-Even scheme enabled us to reach fire spots swiftly,” he said.

DFS is currently functional from 59 fire stations in the national capital.

Increase in number of fire incidents over the years has posed a serious challenge to DFS. According to an official data, the number of fire incidents rose to 27,098 in the year 2015-16 from 23,242 in 2014-15.

In May this year, fire stations received 115 calls every day as compared to an average of around 75 in 2015-16.

On being asked how he plans to deal with the various challenges which his department is facing, Mishra stressed on “purpose-oriented planning” to ensure better delivery of service.

“To beat the challenge posed by congestion, we have inducted vehicles with 3,000 litre water tanks and even introduced motorbikes equipped with nine-litre canister of compressed air foam, which is equivalent to around 100 litres of water,” he said.

He said bigger fire incidents still remain a challenge for which conventional fire tenders, which can store up to 20,000 litres of water, are required to be pressed into service.

Mishra suggested that the best way to bring down fire incidents is by ensuring that new buildings follow all 20 parameters laid down by the Delhi Fire Service Rules 2010. However, nothing can be done to older buildings in this regard.

DFS is also planning to digitise the system to maintain an online database of buildings which have acquired no objection certificates from the fire department.

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