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Bangalore may get advanced fire-fighting vehicle

By B.S. Ramesh

A Bronto Skylift vehicle being used to extinguish fire in a building.

BANGALORE, MAY 29. If the Department of Fire and Emergency Services has its way, Bangalore will soon join the few cities in the country that have acquired sophisticated vehicles to fight fires in multi-storeyed buildings.

The Fire Force has proposed to acquire the Bronto Skylift, which is regarded as one of the most advanced fire-fighting vehicles in the world today. Each skylift costs Rs. 5 crore and the department plans to initially acquire two of them.

The Director-General and Inspector-General of Police (Fire Force and Emergency Services), M.D. Singh, told The Hindu that the vehicles would be pressed into service in Bangalore.

He said Bangalore city had more than 450 high-rise buildings and there was an urgent need to acquire a fire-fighting vehicle that could reach heights of more than 50 metres.

He said the building bylaws classified any building having a height of more than 15 metres as high-rise. A majority of the high-rise buildings in Bangalore did not have adequate fire safety norms. While some of them had violated the norms, others had not bothered to install fire safety equipment. Some of the buildings had not left the required setback and this, Mr. Singh said, would hinder the fire rescue and fire-fighting vehicles from operating properly.

Moreover, the amendment to the National Building Code made a few years ago had done away with any maximum height for high-rise commercial buildings. A few years ago, high-rise buildings were permitted by the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) only on 13 roads. When this restriction was removed, high-rise buildings began to come up in all localities.

The Deputy Inspector-General of Police, T. Sunil Kumar, said the fire force had two vehicles in Bangalore which could reach a height of 30 metres. As this was found to be inadequate to fight fires and rescue people in high-rise structures, the department had sent a proposal to the Government to acquire the Bronto Skylift.

He said the department would reduce the costs by either seeking import concessions or by mounting the skylift on Volvo vehicles manufactured by the Volvo company at Hoskote. This would reduce the costs by at least Rs. 1.5 crore.

He said the skylift had a built in hosepipe that could move upwards with the fully equipped rescue cage which was fitted with powerful floodlights, a cutting extinguisher, a rescue chute, double monitors for efficient fire-fighting, power outlets for electricity, compressed air and hydraulic pressure for tools, and a breathing air outlet for safe rescue and fire-fighting.

The Deputy Director of Fire Force, B.G. Chengappa, said the Bronto Skylift could reach a height of 54 metres and this was found to be adequate for the high-rise buildings in Bangalore. Manufactured by Bronto Skylift Oy Ab of Finland, the skylift is used in more than 100 countries.

He said the department also proposed to acquire more rescue vans. As of now, the department had one rescue van each in Bangalore, Mangalore, and Gulbarga.

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