Ludhiana, June 10
The fire at a high-rise building at Swami Vivekanand Vihar in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar last night has again highlighted the need to equip local firefighters with hydraulic ladders. The Municipal Corporation failed to purchase hydraulic ladders although they started drawing up plans for the same around 2008.
Firefighters struggled to extinguish the flames inside the building in the absence of a hydraulic ladder. There have been a number of fires in high-rise buildings here in the past, but the MC appears to have learned no lessons. MC fire wing officials increased the demand for hydraulic ladders several times, but to no avail.
In June 2021, a private company demonstrated the operation of a hydraulic turntable ladder in area D, but it has not been purchased to date. The MC had also planned to purchase a 50 meter hydraulic ladder for firefighters as part of the Smart City Mission but the plan did not see the light of day.
Senior Deputy Mayor Sham Sundar Malhotra said he witnessed the hydraulic machine being tested last year. It was planned to buy two of these machines. He blamed the officials concerned for delaying the procurement process.
A local fire department employee said the fire started in a fifth-floor apartment on Thursday evening and spread to another apartment after explosions in two LPG cylinders. There was no water supply in the pipeline of the fire safety system in the apartments.
He said firefighters took about four hours to extinguish the flames after running water pipes up the building’s staircase. If they had had an hydraulic ladder, they could have made efforts to quickly extinguish the flames from outside the building, he said.
It is necessary to mention that a large number of high-rise buildings have been built in the city, but the required firefighting equipment has not yet been purchased for the fire department. Also, a number of multi-storey buildings have been erected in narrow lanes in violation of building regulations. Sources said many such buildings lacked fire safety features.
The ordeal of firefighters
A fire official said firefighters took about four hours to extinguish the flames after running water pipes up the stairs of the BRS Nagar skyscraper. If they had had an hydraulic ladder, they could have made efforts to quickly extinguish the flames from outside the building, he said.
MC’s chief engineer, Rajinder Singh, said it had not been decided beforehand what type of machine should be purchased. He said, however, that tenders would be launched soon for the purchase of a hydraulic turntable ladder and that it would also be equipped with a platform.