Mumbai Fire Brigade

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Mumbai Fire Brigade
Mumbai Fire Brigade Logo Enhanced.jpg
"शौर्यम्, आत्मसँयमम्, त्यागः"
"Śauryaṃ, Ātmasaṃyamam, Tyāgaḥ"
(Sanskrit:"Valour, Abnegation, Sacrifice")
Agency Overview
Established 1 April 1887 (1887-04-01)[1]
Fire chief Hassan Mujawar
Facilities & Equipment
Stations 33
Trucks 115
Ambulances 15

The Mumbai Fire Brigade is a fire department in the city of Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is responsible for the provision of fire protection as well as responding to building collapses, drowning cases, gas leakage, oil spillage, road and rail accidents, bird and animal rescues, fallen trees and taking appropriate action during natural disasters.


Before independence[edit]

Firefighters Memorial outside the Byculla Headquarters

The origins of the fire protection in Bombay trace to 1477[citation needed] when the locals were allotted Rs. 4 per day for handling carts and horse chariots which were used to extinguish fire. In 1855, the Bombay Fire brigade started as a part-time police function. A regular fire service with horse-drawn fire engines began under control of the Commissioner of Police. In 1864, a commission was appointed to report the organisation of fire service and a police officer was sent to England to qualify himself as captain of the fire brigade. Bombay Fire Brigade was placed jointly under the control of the Government and the Municipality in 1865. On 1 April 1887[2] fire protection had passed to the Municipality.

In 1888 Bombay Municipal Corporation Act was enacted and protection of life and properties from fire become the duty of the Corporation. W. Nicholls of the London Fire Brigade was appointed Chief Officer in 1890.[3] In 1907, the first motorized fire engine was commissioned. W. J. Scully of Bombay Fire Brigade joined Bombay Salvage Corps, which was formed on 1 May 1907 with 37 insurance companies. One of the prime objective of the Corps apart from salvage operation was to minimise chances of fire. A Street Fire Alarm System was introduced in 1913. The Brigade was motorised by replacing horse-drawn steam engines in 1920 and the Bombay fire brigade started ambulance service consisting of six ambulances donated by Bai Jerbal Wadia and Sir Mangaldas Mehta.[4][5]

On 14 April 1944 the freighter SS Fort Stikine, carrying a mixed cargo of cotton bales, gold and ammunition (including around 1,400 tons of explosives), caught fire and was destroyed in two giant blasts, scattering debris, sinking surrounding ships and setting fire to the surrounding area, killing around 800 people. The Bombay Fire Brigade tried to control the fire under control, at the cost of many firefighters' lives. It was the deadliest incident ever for the Brigade. Preserved in the fire station at Byculla is a Leyland fire engine that took part in fighting the fire.[citation needed]


In 1948, M.G. Pradhan was appointed Chief Fire Officer, the first Indian to hold this position. Since then, the Brigade has been completely manned and controlled by Indians.

2008 terrorist attacks[edit]

Main article: 2008 Mumbai attacks

On 26 November 2008, the Mumbai Fire Brigade responded when terrorists attacked multiple targets within the south city centre. The attacks took place in buildings frequented by foreign tourists, including the Taj Mahal Hotel, Hotel Trident, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Leopold Cafe and Bade Miyan Gali.

In simultaneous attacks, the terrorists used automatic weapons, hand grenades and C-4 explosive with the intention of murdering as many as possible, taking hostages and igniting fires within the structures. The largest blaze was at the Taj Mahal Hotel, whose upper floors were torched.

With no sprinkler systems or interior standpipes, fire-suppression was limited to a master stream attack from aerial devices such as the Bronto Skylift. The attackers targeted firefighters, who remained at their posts atop the aerial platforms and on the ground. Dozens of rescues and removals took place using additional aerial devices. In news accounts, Mumbai's firefighters were referred to as "angels from Heaven" by the trapped victims. The fire crews surrounded the rescued victims to protect them from gunfire.

The fire brigade battled fires multiple times at the Taj and Oberoi hotels as the terrorists kept setting new blazes while fighting commandos. Fire crews awaited clearance from the commandos before going in.

In the wake of the events, it was revealed that Mumbai's firefighters had poor personal protective gear. One fireman best described the brigades' Personal protective equipment (PPE) as similar to London's circa 1950. This attack initiated equipment modernisation.

Jurisdiction & duties[edit]

The role and jurisdiction of the Brigade are defined by the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act (2006).[6] Under the Act, the jurisdiction is set as the limits of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Its role include:

  • Promote fire safety
  • Prepare for fighting fires and protecting people and property from fires
  • Rescuing people from traffic accidents;
  • Dealing with other specific emergencies, such as flooding or terrorist attack
  • Any activity that assists in meeting their statutory duties


The Mumbai Fire Brigade has its city headquarters in Byculla and suburban headquarters in Marol. It is headed by the Chief Fire Officer. For operational purposes, Mumbai is divided into four Regions, further divided into Divisions sub-divided into Sub-Divisions. Each Sub-Division has multiple Fire Stations.

The Regions are each headed by a Deputy Chief (Fire). The Divisions are in the charge of Divisional Officers. Each Sub-Division is headed by the Sub-Divisional Officer. The Fire Station is managed by a Station Officer.


Title Note
Chief Fire Officer 01 nos.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer 06 nos.
Divisional Fire Officer 07
Assistant Divisional Fire Officer 13+1
Station officer 40
Assistant Station Officer 139 waso 3
Sub-Officer 7
Driver/Operator 445
Leading fireman Also called asTandel228
Firemen 1557
Firewomen 12

Duty hours[edit]

Initially, the Mumbai Fire brigade staff were on duty 24-hours per day and were provided quarters at the fire station. In 1991, 24hr duty was limited to officers above Station Officer. Firefighters and Assistant Station Officers now work eight-hour shifts. A few rules from the British era such as roll call are still prevalent.

Daily routine[edit]

Daily Routine is divided in four groups:[7]

  • Daily routine
  • Watch room function
  • Fire station function
  • Miscellaneous


Daily routine includes general duty, maintenance of fire stations, operational work, drills and such other activities carried out around the clock.

  • Rising bell—Rising bell rings at 05:45 AM. This bell also functions as a per-bell alarm for physical training (PT) and exercise.
  • Bell for PT—To maintain all personnel in physically good shape, physical training and exercise are conducted at about 06:15 am to 07:10 am everyday (except Sunday). This includes running up to 2 km and different exercises.

Watchroom function[edit]

  • Duty change—Personnel of each shift take charge from the previous shift. This exiting shift conducts 'mount dismount' and everything is checked according to inventory list. Each shift last eight hours. Each shift is staffed by 9-10 personnel. Two staff take charge of watch-room duty and sentry-duty every two hours. Work normally done by watch-room and sentry duty personnel are as follows.
  • Telephone checking—All three telephones are checked every two hours and relevant entries are made in occurrence book. Any fault is reported to the fire rescue leader/Officer-in-charge.
  • Hand over—take over—duty change of watch-room and sentry personnel
  • Night round up—Checking of premises to see everything is sound and safe, usually done during Night/Third shift every hour.

Fire station functions[edit]

  • Fall-in—To carry out different functions, all personnel of that shift meet.
  • Fall in for cleanliness/maintenance—At 08:00, all personnel fall-in to keep station ground clean, check appliances and equipment, etc.
  • Fall in for foot/ fire drill—From 08:30 to 10:00 foot drill and fire drill (as per Drill manual) is conducted every day except Sunday.
  • Fall in for maintenance/testing—From 15:00 to 16.30, fire fighting equipment is maintained and tested.
  • Fall in for roll call—At 20:00 all personnel are checked in.


  • Dismount—At 20:05 shift ends.
  • Bell operandi—Before each fall in, warning bell are given 15 minutes before. Warning bell and fall in bell is given by ringing the bell three times, lasting not more than 2 seconds.
  • Date change—The official date is changed at midnight.


Fire brigade personnel have three uniforms: administrative, drill and fire fighting. At parade or any other ceremony, firemen wear blue tunics and gallantry medals while officers wear blue coats on their administrative uniform with their medals.[3]

Fire Fighting[edit]

The new personal protective uniform provides more protection from fire. The new helmets are made of composite material, with a protective visor to protect the face from heat and chemicals. Their helmets have a built-in socket for headlight and communication systems. The uniform is distinctive. Officers in other Indian states wear khakis.

The previous uniform had dark blue tunic and pants. Blue helped keep their body temperature constant while fighting a blaze. The uniform included a black waist-belt, a black helmet made from fibre reinforced plastic (in early days, leather), and rubber shoes, which are fire- and chemical-proof. Mumbai fire brigade personnel used Merryweather type helmet made of composite fibre.


At the office, for administrative work, Fire Officers wear uniforms with a white shirt, blue pants, peaked cap and black leather shoes. Firemen wear a sky blue shirt with dark blue pants and leather shoes. Firemen have a Garrison cap and the driver has a peaked cap.

Drill uniform[edit]

Firemen wear white T-shirts with MFB written on it and dark blue pants and leather shoes. Officers are issued grey coloured T-shirys with the fire brigade logo on the chest.


Fire stations are equipped with specialised equipment, such as firefighting and rescue vehicles, Ambulances, breathing apparatus, hydraulic rescue tools, electric chain saws, concrete or steel cutters, chemical protective suits, fire proximity suits, rescue rocket devices, self/rope rescue devices and search cameras.

Mumbai Fire Brigade's Bronto sky lift for sky scrapers
Fire Truck for small buildings
Antiques Fire Engine of Mumbai Fire Brigade


Fire Safety Week[edit]

Fire Safety Week is held from 14 to 21 April every year, in honour of the 66 fire-fighters who lost their lives in the Bombay Explosion.[8]


Andheri corporate tower blaze[edit]

On July 18, a fire broke at the 22-storey Lotus Business Park Building in Andheri(West) at around 11 am. The fire had destroyed the first two floors before the Fire Brigade brought it under control. About a dozen out of 30 firemen were trapped on the rooftop for hours, who had gone inside the building and subsequently a 28 year old fireman Nitin Ivalekar died due to smoke.[9][10]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "About Maharashtra Fire Services". Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Fire Services". Archived from the original on 2012-03-01. 
  3. ^ a b Brave Men in Blue
  4. ^ Fire services in India: history ... – Google Books. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  5. ^ Jain, V. K. (1996). Fire Safety in Building. Taylor & Francis. p. 443. ISBN 9788122410358. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "Microsoft Word - Fire Act Rules _English Final 06.01.2009_.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  7. ^ Daily routine
  8. ^ "Welcome to Maharashtra Fire Services". 4 January 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  9. ^ "Major fire at business park in Mumbai`s corporate hub Andheri". Patrika Group (18 July 2014). Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  10. ^ Kalwar, Pooja (20 July 2014). "Nitin Ivalekar's wife delays funeral, demands compensation in writing". Mid Day. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 

External Reference[edit]