Boom town Noida lags behind in fire safety

February 3rd, 2009 - 12:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Noida, Feb 3 (IANS) It is home to luxury apartments, swish malls and IT offices, but this suburb next to the national capital is not equipped with adequate emergency fire services. Fire officials too admit there is an acute manpower shortage.There are just three fire stations - in Sector 2, Sector 58 and Phase-II - to cater to a population of about one million in this neighbourhood in Uttar Pradesh and they don’t boast of the latest firefighting equipment.

The authorities face criticism due to the poor handling of fire accidents. An employee of a garment manufacturing unit was killed and two people were injured when a boiler exploded in their factory here Jan 19.

Fire officials attribute the slack handling of fire incidents to inadequate resources available with the department and a severe shortage of manpower.

“In our station, there are just five fire tenders and in a crisis, we have to call tenders from other areas. To meet the requirements of a modern city like Noida, we need the best of resources. Unlike Delhi, we don’t have many essential services. But we are making optimum use of the available resources and tackling situations in the best possible manner,” Abhay Pandey, an officer at the fire station in Sector 2, told IANS.

“The city has expanded horizontally and vertically and it is very difficult to meet the emergency requirements of housing societies from just the government fire stations. It is also the responsibility of builders to install firefighting systems in the society,” he added.

Though the department conducts mock drills in apartments and colonies and trains residents and security guards to deal with fire situations, people have demanded that such sessions be held more frequently.

“We have written to the department to conduct training in some housing societies of our sector. The department has agreed to hold a mock drill session soon,” said A.K. Sharma, secretary of the Sector 62 residents’ welfare association (RWA).

Som Dutt, a fire officer at Sector 58, said: “We conduct regular training programmes and mock drills in societies and factories in our area. We have asked people to be cautious and ensure the proper maintenance of their private fire systems after installation.”

“We are always there to complement their services. All societies need to have separate firefighting systems apart from security.”

The fire department has asked the Noida authorities to sanction about 20 more firetenders, four hydraulic platforms, rescue tenders, breathing apparatus and smoke extractors. The department has also sought an increase in the number of static tanks in the city.

(S.P. Singh can be contacted at spsinghg@gmail.com)

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