After the Mumbai Police, now even Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) personnel have fallen prey to the deadly coronavirus. Following the death of one of its staff/ officers on Thursday night, the fatalities due to covid19 involving MFB personnel rises to three.
The fire brigade personnel have been at the frontline of Mumbai’s bid to combat the Covid-19 outbreak, and have been sanitising containment zones and hotspots.
On Sunday, May 26, a 56-year-old MFB fireman Umesh Gonga succumbed to Covid-19. This was the first fatality involving a fire brigade personnel. So far, 42 fire brigade staffers have tested positive for coronavirus across the city.
Currently, 22 firemen/officers are recuperating at dedicated covid hospitals (DCH) and five others are in ICU. Meanwhile remaining 15 are admitted to different Covid Care Centres or are under home quarantine and around three have been cured and discharged. The number of positive cases involving Mumbai fire brigade personnel stands at 42, among the total force strength of around 2500 firemen and officers.
Gonga, was being treated for typhoid and dysentery, was posted at Gowalia Tank Fire station at Grant Road and was involved in fumigation and disinfection activities. He had been on leave since May 16 due to his illness.
On May 23, when his condition worsened, he was rushed to JJ Hospital but was allegedly refused admission. The next day, he was again taken to the hospital by his relatives, where he died during the treatment. He tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday. It is yet to be ascertained how he contracted the infection. Three family members of deceased have been put in quarantine and their test results are awaited.
On May 28, firemen Rafiq Shahabuddin Shaikh attached to Goregaon Fire Brigade and Shashikant Labhe who was posted at Vile Parle Fire Brigade succumbed to Covid19. Sheikh (57) who was attached to Goregaon division of Mumbai fire brigade, and worked there as a fireman and vehicle operator breathed his last at a hospital in Virar on Thursday afternoon.
According to fire brigade sources, Shaikh had developed symptoms like cold fever and breathlessness a couple of weeks ago. On May 21 his test reports confirmed covid-19 infection and on Thursday he suffered a heart stroke and passed away. He is survived by his wife and son. Shaikh was due to retire on May 31.
Following Shaikh, Labde too was declared dead due to coronavirus infection late on Thursday evening. Till Thursday, Four family members of infected staffers have also tested positive.
"It is unfortunate that frontline heroes are falling prey to the deadly virus. However, the best part about them is none of them is discouraged or have shirked off their responsibility due to the virus scare. All our staffers are at the frontline and working 24x7. We salute the three who lost their lives in a bid to ensure the safety of Mumbaikars," said MFB Chief Fire Officer Prabhat Rahangdale told the Free Press Journal.