The Fire and Rescue Services Department has warned devotees against setting up hearths in the vicinity of fuel pumps to prepare the sacred offering on Attukal Pongala festival day on March 7.

According to Divisional Fire Officer R. Prasad, the department has identified at least 14 fuel outlets as “high-risk locations” in the festival area.

It has advised fuel depot owners to rope-off their precincts and prominently display fire-risk caution boards.

Ideally, petrol pumps, ware houses, textile shops, cinema halls and other commercial establishments should ensure that their in-house fire-fighting equipment, mainly portable extinguishers and sand-filled fire-buckets, were in order.

The department has requested traders not to erect thatched awnings and other structures made of easily combustible material in front of or near their establishments.

It has warned devotees against using inflammable substances such as kerosene to light their hearths. The public should refrain from lighting fire-crackers on roadsides.

The sprayers were ideal to fight small fires in the congested festival area.

Water-mist machines

At least 16 fire-engines, including relatively small and highly manoeuvrable ones equipped with water-mist machines, would be deployed on standby at Attukal, South Kalady, Iranimuttom, Attakulangara, Pazhavangadi, Statue, Thampanoor, Chakkai, Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium, Killipalam, Konchiravila, Thampanoor, Ayurveda College, Eenchakkal, East Fort and Manacaud.

Firemen equipped with portable extinguishers would patrol the festival area on motorbikes and foot. Based on 2011 estimates, the police said more than 10 lakh women were expected to offer pongala.

The temple management, claimed at least 35 lakh women would be present on the day. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, 25 lakh women had participated in the event in 2009, making it, arguably, one of the largest religious congregations of women in the world.