ONLY ABOUT 30 per cent of the calls to the Mumbai Fire Brigade are related to fire incidents in the city, said Hemant Parab, Chief Fire Officer. While about 40 per cent are calls for rescue, such as in the case of a drowning incidents, during floods, tree collapses, and bird and animal rescue, 2-3 per cent of the calls are house collapse calls each year, the remainder calls are in case of various incidents, such as, in case of road and rail incidents, oil spillages, chemical spillages, and natural disasters, such as cyclones.
In 2022, the Fire Brigade responded to 6,937 emergency calls, of which 1,899 or 27 per cent were fire incidents, 2,833 or 41 per cent were rescue calls, 183 calls or 3 per cent were house collapses, and 2,014 or 29 per cent were other incidents. Between 2019 and 2022, the Mumbai Fire Brigade has also received 104 false calls with malicious intent, 12 of which were received in 2022, 23 in 2021, 15 in 2020, and 54 in 2019.
Parab said, “The fire brigade continues to attend to fire calls and other incidents till date, with an average response time of four to five minutes. False calls are dealt with as per the situation, and are punishable by law.”
In 2022, Mumbai reported a total of 1996 fire calls, of which one was a level 4 call (major fire), one a level 3 call (medium fire), 12 level 2 calls (also medium fire), and 26 level 1 calls (small fires).
The brigade has been demanding that its firefighting duties be separated from the other duties to reduce the burden on them, to ensure focus on attending to fire calls, and on fire safety compliance in the city.
Prakash Devdas, president of the Mumbai Fire Brigade officers union, said, “We have demanded that our firefighting duties be separated from other duties. We have sought a division of our duties into three: Firefighting, rescue operations, and compliance duties. However, this has still not been taken seriously by the administration. We are told that while separate vehicles are provided for each of the duties, manpower remains the same. In fact, some years ago, one fireman died while rescuing a bird stuck in a high voltage electric wire. We will be taking up the matter with the municipal commissioner again.”