Sunday, February 20, 2005

Rising mercury singes city

Soaring mercury levels keep firemen busy
The Times of India

Bangalore: If the good rain last year led to the growth of thick vegetation, the soaring mercury level in the city now has fire force personnel on their toes. The unreasonably high temperature has dried up vegetation, grass in particular, leaving the fire force men to battle against ground fires.

Fires in some city slums and a forest fire that spread across 50 hectares in Bannerghatta National Park were major incidents which fire force personnel handled last week.

Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services IGP M.N. Reddi said the personnel were on high alert in and around the city as it was the peak season for fire breakouts. “The control room has been receiving more than 10 calls a day in the last two weeks,” he said.

Around 75 calls reporting incidents of fire were received at the control room in the last one week. While the 11 fire stations in the city received a total of 140 calls in 2004, the fire control room has already received 244 calls so far this year.

“With the weather getting warmer, vegetation is drying up quickly. Patches of wooded areas and open grounds with grass are turning vulnerable to fires,’’ a Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services officer said. With the incidence of fire accidents being high during the months of March, April and May when summer is at its peak, the fire control room is flooded with calls.

Statistics reveal that the fire department receives more number of SOS calls during these months when compared to the rest of the year. The frequency of calls received during Diwali and the harvest season is also high.

While 968 calls were received across the state in January 2003, a record 1,226 calls were received during March the same year.
This is apart from the rescue calls and false calls that the personnel attend to.

From attending to fire mishaps in slums, factories and even freak incidents where vehicles catch fire, to clearing uprooted trees, working in inundated premises and building collapses, the fire force is constantly on the move.

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