Delhi may have lost property of over Rs. 250 crore in fire tragedies in the past five years but the “ill-equipped” fire-fighters have also managed to save property worth close to Rs. 1,000 crore.

This was revealed in the latest performance audit of Delhi Fire Services for the fiscal 2008-09 done by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

According to the Government Auditor, the fire brigade have saved property worth Rs. 985.46 crore in the consecutive five fiscals till 2008-09 and the maximum was saved in the fiscal 2006-07 when it touched Rs. 306.20 crore.

In the fiscal ending March 2009, the fire brigade in the capital, which the CAG noted is plagued with shortage of manpower and equipment, saved property worth Rs. 294.71 crore.

The CAG noted that the property saved during 2004-05 and 2005-06 were a meagre Rs. 26.29 crore and Rs. 64.57 crore but it grew in the next three fiscals.

According to the statistics, a total of 16,452 calls of fire were received by them in 2008-09 which is the maximum for the past five years. While there were 14,232 calls in 2004-05, the figures for the next fiscals were 16,318, 14,291 and 15,718.

Delhi also lost property worth Rs. 268.12 crore in fire during this period with the fiscal 2007-08 topping the list with Rs. 59.22 crore followed by 2008-09 (Rs. 59.02 crore) and 2006-07 (Rs. 55.87 crore).

The number of people getting killed in fire tragedies in the capital was also increasing year after year with over 1,450 deaths reported in the past five years.

The 2008-09 fiscal topped the list with 380 deaths followed by 2007-08 (351), 2006-07 (303), 2004-06 (272) and 2005-06 (154).

The report also noted that the calls received by the fire brigade have increased by 15.60 per cent in the past five years. While there were 14,232 calls reported during 2004-05, it rose to 16,452 in 2008-09.

A senior fire brigade official attributed the increase in calls to incidents other than fire accidents such as building collapse, suicides, drowning and road accidents.

The CAG also noted that the fire brigade in the capital is so “ill-equipped” and short-staffed that in a whopping 77 per cent cases the rescue workers reached the spot well after the stipulated five minutes.

It said the shortage of equipment, ranging from 13 per cent to 67 per cent, indicates that the department was not well-equipped with fire fighting appliances to ensure fire safety and combat fire hazards.

The CAG said that of the 278 static water tanks available with the fire department, 164 were non-functional and added that 846 schools - both private and government - in the national capital were functioning without fire safety and prevention measures.

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