Leaky roof, falling bricks: Puducherry’s fire station in need of rescue

| Video Credit: S.S. Kumar

The condition of the ‘Kari Godown’ that houses the Union Territory’s oldest fire station, is so poor and structurally unsound that fire and rescue personnel say it is unsafe for them to use it

Updated - July 06, 2023 07:45 pm IST

Published - July 06, 2023 03:50 pm IST - PUDUCHERRY

Fire-fighters in Puducherry, who are always ready to rescue citizens in distress, are now worried that the day is not far off, when they will themselves need rescuing from the unsafe building they function out of.

The condition of the sheds that house the Puducherry Fire Station near the beach has become so bad that fire service personnel fear that any day, they will be the ones to sound the alarm bell, should the structure cave in.

The roof leaks, bricks are falling and snakes are on the premises of the sheds that the fire station functions out of, say personnel

The roof leaks, bricks are falling and snakes are on the premises of the sheds that the fire station functions out of, say personnel | Photo Credit: KUMAR SS

The sheds, popularly known as ‘Kari Godown,’ (used by the erstwhile French establishment to store coal) function as the Fire Station, which is the oldest in the Union Territory, catering to rescue operations in the entire town.

During the recent rains, the dilapidated condition of the decade-old sheds came to light when a video of water flowing from the leaky roofs into the office surfaced in the public domain and was widely shared. The video showed water gushing from the rooftop of the shed where firefighting equipment is kept.

“The roof used to leak here and there during the rains, but for the first time on Monday (July 3, 2023) night, water started gushing into the office, causing disruption to all our activities. Water entered the adjacent shed where the staff rest during non-operational hours. We were forced to take out our uniforms and other material from the room,” said a staff member. 

The condition of the rest room has become scary, fire personnel said, with cracks on the side walls. The roots of several trees have penetrated into the concrete walls causing cracks in many areas, they said.

“The day when rainwater started flowing down into the room where machinery is kept, some of us, who were in the resting room, had a lucky escape. Structurally weak bricks began falling. The entire structure has become weak, and it is unsafe for us to stay inside.” said another staff member.

“If something happens to the shed during heavy rains or even otherwise, our services to the society will be cut off temporarily. That will not be a very desirable situation for the region,” said a fire-fighter.

The Fire Station is also confronted with the problem of venomous snakes. “Three months ago, we caught a viper from inside the room. Before that, another viper was caught. There is no occupational safety at all, considering that at any given time, there are around 35 fire-fighters available at the station,” he said.

Station Officer J. Mukundan, said the sheds are owned by the Chamber of Commerce. The two sheds have been taken on lease. The poor condition of the sheds has been taken up with the government, he said.

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