Mumbai: Exactlyone year to the day of the tragic Kamala Mills fire, the Brihanmumbai MunicipalCorporation (BMC) and Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) are yet to even initiate theirlofty fire compliance goals. More startlingly, standard operating procedures(SOPs) were only issued by BMC, after the December 29 blaze last year. Theirlofty aims are nowhere near attainment because there has been no recruitment tothe 34 special fire-fighting cells. This December, on an average, there hasbeen at least one fire call on a daily basis and we are still counting, withtwo more days left in the year.
They are still discussing the number of staff required for34 fire compliance cells. These cells were set up after the Kamala Mills blazeon the directions of the BMC chief Ajoy Mehta. Fourteen people were killed inthe December 29 blaze last year, a glaring instance of dereliction of duty bythe civic and fire officials. In the new year, it was expected that officialsfrom the special cells would crack down against establishments (shops, hotels,commercial and residential societies) that had failed to implement fire safetymeasures.
The deputy chief fire officer (technical) RA Choudharyadmitted to The Free Press Journal there have been no new recruitments so farand said, “The BMC has already taken a decision to create new posts forthese compliance cells, which will be totally different from the currentfire-fighting wing. The proposal is under process and expected to be completedshortly.”
Interestingly, on an average every year, the fire departmentreceives 13 calls on a daily basis and 400 on a monthly basis. Yet, Choudharyhas defended the delay in hiring, saying they are carrying out due diligence.“Manpower management is always a critical factor because once a person isappointed, he becomes a permanent liability. Hence, we are examining the exactnumber of these additional officers and the requirements for these posts, basedon the various types of hazardous incidents reported,” said Choudhary.