To reduce the response time during catastrophic incidents, the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) plans to form a rapid response team for 22 administrative wards in the city. These teams will be the first to reach any disaster area in the city for rescue operations. The BMC will purchase a rapid response vehicle for each neighborhood team.
However, the fire brigade union objected to appointing firefighters for the vehicle on a contractual basis.
There are over 2,500 officers and firefighters in the MFB. Besides the regular duties of firefighting and rescue operations, officials have additional duties of conducting fire audits in private buildings, shopping malls, multiplexes and hospitals.
“We have set up a control room. But the distance between the barracks and the services is long. So to reduce the response time, we’ll appoint a rapid response team. These teams will be the first to respond. also arrive on site as soon as possible. Sometimes we have to call firefighters from another department, but now the response team will analyze the situation. This will allow us time to organize further assistance if needed. Training the team and procuring vehicles will take time,” said Fire Chief Hemant Parab.
Each rapid response vehicle will have a supervisor, two firefighters and a driver. The firefighters will be appointed on a contractual basis, which we see as privatization, Mumbai Agnishaman Dal Ladhau Kamgar Sena has informed.
Former mayor and union secretary Kishori Pednekar, in a letter to the state’s urban development ministry and city commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, called for the decision to be revoked.
“There are 1,400 to 1,500 vacancies at MFB. The fire department has experienced personnel to handle all types of disasters,” Pednekar said.
Fire department response time is 20 minutes at peak times, which should ideally be around 6-7 minutes by central government standards. However, despite this, MFB is technically equipped, the fire department official said.
Meanwhile, Parab said he had not yet received the letter from the union and therefore could not comment on it.
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