The Fire Services refused to answer how many new fire-fighting equipment were bought in the last eight years.
The Delhi fire services which comes under the Delhi government have not opened a single new fire station between 2015 and 2022, revealed an RTI reply from the department.
The RTI filed by senior Congress leader Dr Naresh Kumar sought to know from the fire department as to how many new fire stations have been opened by the Delhi government and the Delhi Fire Services and the total number of fire-fighting equipment and vehicles purchased by the department between 2015 and 2022.
In reply to the RTI, the Delhi Fire Services said that they have not been able to open a single new fire station in the national capital in the last eight years. However, it also added that although the Delhi Development Authority had earmarked three parcels of lands for opening up new fire station in Ghazipur, Narela and Mahipalpur, it has not been able to make a single new fire station operational in these years in these lands.
However, the Delhi Fire Services, according to Dr Naresh Kumar, refused to answer how many new fire-fighting equipment the Delhi Fire Services have bought in the last eight years. To this, the Congress and Dr Naresh Kumar has alleged that since the Delhi Fire Services have not been able to buy a single new equipment for the people of Delhi, they have refused to give this reply in the RTI.
“The population of Delhi has increased manifold in the last eight years and, according to estimates, from 2 crore, the population of Delhi has increased to 3.30 crore in the last eight years and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi has done nothing for fire services for Delhi. Imagine if the government has not brought a single equipment and made advancement in its technology for fire-fighting, what have they been doing all these years, apart from self-praising and advertising?” Dr Naresh Kumar told The Sunday Guardian.
Dr Kumar further added that the fire services in Delhi do not even have equipment and vehicles that would enter the narrow lanes of many Delhi localities, “They have just three ladders that are needed to reach tall buildings; they have not invested a single rupee in upgrading technology. The population and the nature of the population of Delhi has changed, but our fire-fighting services are still stuck a decade back,” Dr Kumar said.
“According to the Delhi master plan in the outskirts of Delhi, the lands in the gram sabhas are under the control of the Delhi government for which they (AAP government) will not have to wait for the DDA’s approval, but they could not even open any fire stations there,” Dr Kumar added.
The summer months of May, June and parts of July experience the highest number of fire incidents in Delhi; last year alone in May, more than 1,000 fire incidents were reported from Delhi which killed at least 40 people. The first six months of this year have already witnessed more than 5000 minor and major incidents of fire have been reported from Delhi.
Earlier last week, a fire incident at a coaching centre in Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar was reported that left 60 students with severe to minor burn injuries. After the fire broke out in the afternoon on Thursday in a UPSC coaching centre in North West Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar, dramatic visuals of students jumping from the third floor of the coaching institute have been circulating on social media. Some students were also seen breaking windows to escape and clinging on to loose wires and ropes that were dangling outside the coaching institute’s wall.
Some visuals of students jumping and falling off on the AC compressors and some climbing down with the help of those dangling wires have also come to the fore. But, like Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar, where hundreds of coaching institutes and eateries function, mostly without a fire clearance certificate, the situation is similar across the national capital, which has over the last decade seen a boom in the mushrooming of such institutes, eateries and restaurants that often functions without even the basic fire safety standards.
In this particular incident of fire in Mukherjee Nagar, according to Delhi Fire Services officials, the building had no fire-fighting equipment in place and that the building was housing at least three UPSC coaching centres and some offices without the basic requirements of fire safety.
The fire which is believed to have set due to an electrical fault on the ground floor took two hours and 11 fire engines to be completely doused. According to the Delhi Fire Services, the department has 95 water tenders and 42 water bowsers, which are typically large vehicles that are used to douse fires, this for a population of more than 3 crore and 60 fire stations.
The Department also mentions that it has just three aerial ladders or hydraulic platforms that are used to climb up high rise buildings and helps in effective fire-fighting.