Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Four fire brigade ‘mini HQs’ lie vacant for lack of furniture

READ MORE Fire Brigade|BMC
MUMBAI: Four of the five fire brigade command centres, which were constructed at a cost of Rs 75 crore a few years ago, have been lying vacant only for want of basic furniture. "As the buildings are not being used, they have been damaged by anti-social elements. While locals are dumping garbage on the premises of one such vacant centre, windowpanes have been broken in some of the other buildings," said a senior fire brigade official.

A command centre is like a mini-headquarters, which is used for administrative, better communication, training and capacity building of the force. One command centre controls on an average six to seven fire stations.

Following the deluge on July 26, 2005, the BMC had announced setting up of six command centres—at Mankhurd, Vikroli, Marol, Byculla, Wadala and Borivli. The proposal was fast-tracked after the terror attacks in November 2008 to ensure quick response and capacity building of the fire department. But only five of the six command centres are ready, and of the five only the unit at Wadala is occupied and operational. Construction on the command centre at Marol has not even begun.

Construction at Vikhroli was completed in 2010, but the building remains unoccupied for lack of internal furniture. The other three structures at Mankhurd, Byculla and Borivli share its fate for want of basic furniture, at least a year since the construction. If these centres were operational, the fire brigade could have shifted their staff and machinery from the dilapidated fire stations.

Civic officials admitted the BMC should have estimated the cost of furniture required while allotting the construction work. "Funds were exhausted in construction of the structure. There is no money left for furniture. Now, separate tenders will have to be floated for furnishing the buildings," said a civic official.

With the Byculla command centre not operational, the chief fire officer's office has been shifted to the Wadala unit, which is far from the central control room at Byculla. The senior officer should be based close to the central control room for effective communication and timely response, officials said.