Fire Brigade acquires new equipment as it prepares to face another monsoon. What you see in the picture above is just one of them
This monsoon, if you have the misfortune of being marooned in an area inaccessible to rescue teams, be prepared to see a rocket being fired at you.
No, nothing to be alarmed about — when this rocket will touch the water around you, it will burst open to throw up a U-shaped inflated tube. The tube will be tied to a rope, one end of which will be with the rescue team, and you will be pulled out to safety in no time.
These next-generation rocket launchers are part of a whole new range of equipment acquired by the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) as it prepares to face another monsoon with memories of 26/7 still fresh.
The department has acquired new inflatable motorboats, floating stretchers, pneumatic lifting airbags (used to remove debris to rescue people in house collapses), water-proof torches with a signaling system, wet suits that keep a rescuer’s body temperature in control, inflatable life jackets that can be strapped to even an unconscious victim and bags that when thrown towards a victim open up into inflated tubes.
Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak was recently quoted as saying that while Mumbai could be flooded this year too, the rescue operations will be quicker and more efficient. The fire brigade is making sure the boss does not have to eat his words.
“We are organising practice drills and are fully prepared to face any eventuality. Our men are well-trained and equipment is in good condition. We are also organising an in-house competition in flood relief and fire-fighting skills on June 12. The practice for it will start from June 1,” said Chief Fire Officer Kiran Kadam.
Just last week Mumbai Mirror did an extensive report on how ill-prepared the city is to face the rains. Now with only a few days from the rains, several roads in the city are still dug up and many nullahs have still not been cleaned. Given all that, one cannot over-emphasise the importance of rescue operations.
On Thursday, around 15 MFB men tested the rocket launchers and other equipment at their Fort station.
Every day the dedicated 60-member flood rescue team is put through a series of drills encompassing all possible rescue scenarios they may encounter.
Mumbai Fire Brigade has identified six fire stations that in all likelihood would be involved in the bulk of rescue work this monsoon. These fire stations — Wadala, BKC, Kurla, Chembur, Borivli and Marol — are all located in areas prone to flooding.
Eleven fire stations, all of them in low-lying areas, have been given the rocket launchers.
Twenty-six fire stations have been equipped with rain gauges. The rain gauges will be monitored every hour and a report sent to the brigade control room and BMC. To fight landslides and house collapses, MFB has stationed 48 dumpers and 24 earth movers at nine stations.
Eviction notices have already been sent to old and dilapidated buildings.