Flight attendants are trained to respond swiftly if an aircraft catches fire. But recently, this training proved its worth in an unexpected setting: a Mumbai high-rise.
On November 7, 2018, Radhika Ahire, a 25-year-old flight attendant with Jet Airways, put her safety training to perfect use when she noticed smoke coming out of an apartment on the ninth floor of Gokul Panchwati building in the suburb of Andheri. Ms. Ahire ran up the nine floors and broke into the locked apartment with a crash axe before emptying nine fire extinguishers. She managed to successfully douse the fire before the firemen arrived. Ms. Ahire was helped by her brother Rohit and a neighbour, Mahesh Belapurkar. The trio together carried all the fire extinguishers and the crash axe from their own building nearby, Deep Tower.
Recalling the day, Ms. Ahire said that the fire had been caused by a stray fire cracker that had landed in the ninth floor apartment. “I was stepping out when my attention was drawn to some commotion outside. I noticed that some clothes that had been put out to dry were burning. The fire soon spread into the apartment through an open window and the curtains started burning,” she said.
Much to the surprise of the crowd that had gathered to gawk at the fire, Ms. Ahire, Mr. Rohit and Mr. Belapurkar ran up the nine floors, since taking the elevator was risky.
When asked what she was thinking at that time, Ms. Ahire said that her only priority was to save lives. “Fortunately, the apartment was empty at that time. But until I broke open the main door and another one leading to the bedroom, I had assumed that people might be trapped inside,” said the flight attendant, who has done her fire-fighting training at Jet Airways twice. “I had to cover my face with a piece of cloth as the fumes were irritating my eyes and nose,” she recalled.
Ms. Ahire believes that it was the training that helped her doused the fire. “At Jet Airways, the training was hands-on in a simulated scenario. This was, however, the first time that I faced a real-life scenario of fire-fighting. And if required to step up again, I will gladly do so,” said the airhostess. Ms. Ahire’s heroics were almost forgotten until recently, when the residents of her building decided to felicitate her for her courage on Republic Day, turning her into a star in the eyes of the neighbourhood kids.