In the three years since the Kalbadevi blaze, in which four fire officials lost their lives, the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) has spent Rs 59 crores on the procurement of new firefighting equipment.
The information was provided in response to an RTI (Right to Information) application filed by noted activist Anil Galgali.
Galgali had sought information from the MFB regarding the required equipment for dealing with fire incidents after the Kalbadevi fire, details about the complete requirement and equipment purchased from the list.
In response to the RTI, the Divisional Fire Officer SD Sawant informed Galgali that a major chunk of funds had been spent on the procurement of 42 Quick Response Vehicles, worth Rs 42.45 crore collectively, which can tackle the city’s narrow streets.
Six fire engines worth Rs 3.41 crores and 11 water tankers worth 7.94 crores were also bought. Additionally, 22 light portable pumps, 35 LED lights, and 5 high-pressure pumps worth Rs 3.41 crore, 95.76 lakh and 62.43 lakhs respectively were purchased.
The civic body increased the spending on firefighting equipment after four senior officials lost their lives while dousing a major blaze at Kalbadevi’s Gokul Nivas building in May 2015.
Since then, roughly one-fourth of the total budget allocated to the MFB has been spent on the advancement or procurement of latest equipment.
The BMC further hiked the department’s budget for the year 2018-19 to Rs 180 crore in the wake of the Kamala Mills blaze.
More recently, the department floated a tender for the procurement of a fire-fighting robot, which will be capable of streaming real-time footage from the source of the fire and control the blaze.
The robot, which is expected to cost Rs 1.2 crore, will allow firefighters to remotely guide it to the source of the fire and douse it without putting any firemen in harm’s way. Depending on the success, more such robots will be procured.