Mumbai

City to get firefighting bikes to reach inaccessible disaster sites

Tackling a challenge: In congested areas like Kamathipura, fire engines and jumbo tankers have to be parked far from the site because lanes are too narrow.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

The Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) has invited bids for procuring 24 fire bikes, which will manoeuvre narrow lanes and become first respondents during firefighting operations.

The bikes will be fitted with a 40-litre water tank, a pump, a high-pressure hose reel, siren and a GPS system. The MFB wants to use these bikes to cut down on response time owing to increased traffic.

Every year, several incidents of fire or building collapse occur in congested areas such as Chira Bazaar, Kalbadevi, Pydhonie, Dongri, Nagpada, Kamathipura, Kurla, Bandra’s Nargis Dutt Nagar, Garibnagar, Juhu Gully, Malvani and Dharavi. During such calls, fire engines and jumbo tankers may have to be parked on the main road, far from the site, and carry hose lines. This often becomes a challenge.

Besides, the fire brigade’s response time to a fire call in the island city is 15 to 20 minutes while in the suburbs, it is 20 to 25 minutes, primarily because of heavy traffic jams. This means a small fire may become bigger till the fire engines get to the site. The MFB already has quick response vehicles and mini fire engines but it wants to cut down its response time further.

“Worldwide, countries are trying to have fire bikes to ensure they are first respondents to a call. Singapore has such bikes. Since the fire bikes we are looking at will have a water tank capacity of 40 litres and will throw water at a rate of eight litres per minute, they can hold off the fire for five minutes. Then, the tank can be filled again using water from a source nearby. Even if they hold fort for 10 minutes using their 100-feet-long hose, by then, the fire engines will have arrived,” a senior fire brigade officer said. Besides, it will ensure a minor fire does not become major.

The fire brigade had decided to procure the bikes several years ago, but finally invited bids on January 1 for procuring them at a cost of ₹3 crore. The MFB has given specific instructions about the engines’ capacity and make, among other things. It will also comprise a fog or jet gun to create a water mist, and a siren-cum-announcement system, GPS system integrated with command and control system of the fire brigade, and two extinguishers. One bike will be stationed in each ward.

Currently, there is a team of seven firemen with each fire engine. Two will be stationed on fire bikes while five will be on the engines during a call. The bikes will be of the ‘off-roader’ variety for better mobility. Thane, Vasai-Virar and many other fire brigades have fire bikes but they are registered as regular bikes retrofitted with equipment. Instead, MFB is trying to get these bikes legally registered as fire bikes with the Regional Transport Office.

The MFB also has a firefighting robot that has come in handy in a few situations so far, including the fire at MTNL building in Bandra.


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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 12:58:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/city-to-get-firefighting-bikes-to-reach-inaccessible-disaster-sites/article30610445.ece

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