The residents of Padmanabhapuram, capital of Travancore State from 1550 to the later half of the 18th century, have been stressing the need for installing modern fire-fighting equipment in the famous Padmanabhapuram palace near here, known as a wooden palace in Kanyakumari district, which is attracting a large number of foreign and domestic tourists every day.

The palace, constructed in a sprawling area of 186 acres in 1601, is a classic example of Kerala architecture with its gabled roofs and carved wooden pillars.

Another fascinating feature is the portrait of murals dated to the 17th and 18th centuries. The 17 century legacy has now remained damaged.

There are more than 18 galleries in the palace including Poomukam, Durbar hall, Ottupurai, Nadakasalai, Thaikottaram, Ayudhapuri, Clock tower, Royal office, Navarathri Mandapam etc. All these historically important buildings have already been provided with conventional fire-fighting equipment.

The Department of Archaeology (Kerala) allotted Rs.10 lakh for installation of fire-fighting equipment a few years ago. However, almost all valves are now rusted and could not be opened during emergency. Moreover, there are no trained persons to handle the equipment.

“The Kerala government should come forward to install modern fire-fighting equipment which will use gas to extinguish fire instead of water since the wooden palace is full of feather-touch ornamental wooden works,” said J. Jeyachandran, vice-president of Kutticadu Nair Karayogam in Padmanabhapuram.

Using of water to extinguish fire will destroy the ornamental woodwork. “It is better if the Kerala government installs centralised fire extinguishing system using gas,” said the councillor of Padmanabhapuram, V. S. Hari Kumar.

The Director of the Department of Archaeology (Government of Kerala), G. Prem Kumar, told The Hindu over phone on Sunday that it is high time for the department to introduce modern fire-fighting equipment.

“We will take steps as per the UNESCO standards since it is a heritage building. A land measuring acres lying unused in the palace will used for constructing an archaeological park. We have been given time till year 2016 to fulfil the UNESCO requirements including fire safety measures,” Dr.Prem Kumar added.