Mumbai’s fire department may get 3 firefighting robots worth Rs 6 crores by December

Mumbai's fire department may get 3 firefighting robots worth Rs 6 crores by December
The firefighting robot demonstrating its capabilities at department headquarters in Byculla. Picture Courtesy: Shyam Agrawal

The city’s fire department is set to get a major shot in the arm, with authorities getting serious out the acquisition of fire-fighting robots.

While a provision for the purchase of unmanned fire extinguishers was made in the BMC budget of 2016-17, and demonstrations were first carried in December 2015, no order was placed.

On Friday, Chennai-based manufacturer Joseph Leslie & Co LLP and their partner Magirus Germany held a demonstration of the unmanned remote-controlled robot fire extinguisher in front of over 30 officials from the Mumbai Fire Brigade headquarters at Byculla.

The robot, which costs as estimated Rs 2 crore each before custom modifications, is specially built for dousing fires where firefighters have limited or no access. One such example, where the robot can come in extremely handy, is when it comes to dousing fires at large grounds or dumpsites, like the Deonar landfill.

A few months back, the Deonar fire had raged on for almost a week because firefighters had to douse fires in a particular section and allow it to cool before going in deeper.

The robot demonstrated on Friday is capable of spraying water and foam mist up to 80 metres.

According to sources, the fire department is considering purchasing three such robots, one for each part of the city. If negotiation conclude on time, Mumbai may get all three by the end of this year.

In the interim, the department has already invited other companies to demonstrate their equipment and an order will be placed after evaluating all possible options.

While the robots will go a long way in helping save the lives of citizens and fire men alike, officials from the department maintain that the biggest fire hazard in the city is the rampant illegal encroachment.

“Even with the use of technology, lives will be in danger till citizens themselves realize the importance of fire safety,” said an official.

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