Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fire officials plan smaller firefighting vehicles for Games

New Delhi After the introduction of motorbikes fitted with fire extinguishers in April, the Delhi Fire Service is now planning to introduce small cars and jeeps fitted with firefighting equipment that will be used for tackling emergency situations during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

As per the authorities, the idea behind using smaller vehicles is to cut down on the time taken by a fire tender to reach its destination. Officials believe smaller vehicles will result in “increasing operational capabilities” of the department and save precious time, as it will allow easier movement even during heavy traffic situations during the Games.

Even when introducing the motorbikes, officials had said the main purpose was to “reduce response time” by deploying them in fire-prone, congested areas like Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazar, Old Delhi and Trans-Yamuna areas.

In May 1999, 57 people died in a fire that broke out in a chemical market in the congested Lal Kuan area - one of the biggest fire calamities witnessed in the Capital. A similar mishap occurred at Swadeshi Market in Sadar Bazar in December 2001.

Fire officials have pointed out that a primary reason for the magnitude and high casualty rate witnessed in these incidents is the inability of bigger fire tenders to reach the spots in time.

“The department is considering using smaller vehicles, like the Maruti Gypsy or small vans, instead of the regular tenders for tackling untoward incidents at or near Games venues,” said Chief Fire Officer R C Sharma. “We will take another month or so to take a final decision on the issue,” he said.

In April, the Delhi Fire Service had introduced a fleet of red Royal Enfield motorcycles fitted with fire extinguishers for congested areas. Modelled in the lines of the Malaysian fire and rescue department, these bikes are fitted with equipment based on the ‘Water Mist Technology’ that prevents the wastage of water, unlike traditional fire extinguishers, officials said. The bikes will also be used for firefighting inside the Games venues.

Officials added that all firefighting vehicles will be fitted with global positioning systems before the Games. New fire stations and control rooms will also be set up around all Games stadia and special training will be provided to personnel in charge of emergency operations to ensure maximum security.

Incidentally, in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, the Beijing fire brigade constructed several new fire stations apart from implementing a digital fire response system with help from Tsinghua University and other agencies. The system helps to pinpoint the location of the fire, chooses the best route for responders and dispatches firefighters. All 93 Olympics venues were equipped with this technology by the end of 2007.

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