Thursday, February 25, 2010

THEY’D HAVE BEEN ALIVE TODAY...

THEY’D HAVE BEEN ALIVE TODAY...
3 jumped and 6 choked to death at Carlton Towers on Tuesday ...if only our Fire Force had bought these critical tools post-26/11
K R SREENIVAS


The nine Bangaloreans who died at Carlton Towers on Tuesday would have been alive today if only our Fire Force had equipped themselves with these critical tools:
TURNTABLE LADDER instead of HYDRAULIC LADDER
JUMPING CUSHION CHUTES SMOKE EXTRICATORS
Firemen who rushed to Old Airport Road through dense traffic had no chutes, no cushions, and no equipment to disperse the smoke. They used primitive equipment, and ended up pointing fingers at everyone but themselves.
For over two-and-a-half years, the Fire Force has not been able to decide what equipment to buy, and the indecisiveness cost Bangalore nine lives at Carlton Towers on Tuesday.
Bangalore Mirror investigated the failings of the department during the Carlton Towers fire on HAL Airport Road, and found many shocking lapses. In 2009, Home Minister V S Acharya had told the department to consider buying the best available equipment with the latest technology. The Fire Force bosses ignored him.
If 26\11 in Mumbai was a big eye-opener about the lack of fire-fighting equipment, our Fire Forces have still not learnt their lessons.
If only they had the right kind of equipment, they could have saved many trapped inside, through the aerial, external route. The Karnataka Fire Force, like most fire forces in India, uses hydraulic equipment for mass rescue and evacuation, but experts say such equipment is more suited for industrial use.
Better-equipped fire forces across the world use turntable ladders. The Bengaluru International Airport Limited (BIAL) has one such ladder.
Turntable ladders would have made a world of difference on Bangalore's Dark Tuesday. These are built by three leading manufacturers: Magirus (Germany), Morrita (Japan), and Rosenbauer (Austria). They come in a range of models, and can reach heights of up to 56 metres (18 floors), 40 metres (12), 32 metres (9 floors), and 20 metres (5 floors). Turntable ladders are six times faster than hydraulic machines.
For the Carlton Towers fire, a 32-metre machine would have worked well. The Karnataka Fire Services has an old Magirus machine procured in 1984, and its technology is now outdated.
The new machines in the market have much faster cycle times, and safety features are upgraded and are humanfail safe.
HELPLESS DGP
Fire Forces DGP Jija Hari Singh told Bangalore Mirror the department had plans to procure sophisticated equipment, but the Police Housing Corporation was the authority she had to depend on.
“We are pleading with them,’’ she said. Imported items are procured through global tenders.
“We have bought one high-rise Skylift. We have funds available from the Asian Development Bank. We got to know about some of these equipment only today (Tuesday)."
The department had bought six advanced rescue vans fitted with hydraulic cutters. "These can cut through steel and concrete, which is why we were able to rescue so many people. We had to cut open certain doors,’’ she said.

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