Mumbai Fire Brigade
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2013)|
|"शौर्यम्, आत्मसँयमम्, त्यागः"
"Śauryaṃ, Ātmasaṃyamam, Tyāgaḥ"
(Sanskrit:"Valour, Abnegation, Sacrifice")
|Established||1 April 1887|
|Fire chief||Prabhat Rahangdale|
|Facilities and equipment|
The Mumbai Fire Brigade is the fire brigade serving the city of Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is responsible for the provision of fire protection as well as responding to building collapses, drownings, gas leakage, oil spillage, road and rail accidents, bird and animal rescues, fallen trees and taking appropriate action during natural disasters.
Fire protection in Bombay began in 1777, when locals were allotted Rs. 4 per day for handling carts and horse chariots which were used to extinguish fires. The Bombay fire brigade started as a part-time police function in 1855. 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. Fire protection became the responsibility of the Municipality on 1 April 1887.
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. The first motorized fire engine was commissioned in 1907. Also in 1907, the Bombay Salvage Corporation was formed, responsible for fire protection and salvage operations. Street fire alarms were installed in 1913. The Brigade was motorised by replacing horse-drawn steam engines in 1920, and the Bombay fire brigade started ambulance service using six donated ambulances.
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.
Jurisdiction & duties
The role and jurisdiction of the Brigade are defined by the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act (2006). Under the Act, the jurisdiction is set as the limits of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Its role includes:
- 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 and subdivisions. Each subdivision has multiple fire stations.
The regions are each headed by a Deputy Chief (Fire). The Divisions are in the charge of Divisional Officers. Each subdivision is headed by the Sub-Divisional Officer. The fire station is managed by a Station Officer.
Initially, the Mumbai Fire brigade staff were on duty 24 hours per day and were provided quarters at the fire station. In 1991, 24-hour 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.
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.
Fire Safety Week
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 66 lives. Preserved in the fire station at Byculla is a Leyland fire engine that took part in fighting the fire.
2008 terrorist attacks
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2014)|
On 26 November 2008, the Mumbai Fire Brigade responded when terrorists attacked multiple targets within the south city centre using automatic weapons, hand grenades and C-4 explosive. 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. 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. 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 equipment. This attack initiated equipment modernisation.
Andheri corporate tower blaze
On 18 July 2014, a fire broke at around 11 am at the 22-storey Lotus Business Park Building in Andheri (West). The fire destroyed the upper two floors before the Fire Brigade brought it under control. About a dozen out of 30 firemen who had gone inside the building were trapped for hours on the rooftop, and Nitin Ivalekar, a 28-year-old fireman, died due to smoke inhalation.
The 9 May 2015 Kalbadevi fire, which destroyed the five-storey Gokul Nivas bhavan and killed several firemen was one of the worst fires since the 1944 Bombay Docks Explosion. It was a Brigade call.
Close up of Hydraulic platform
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