Fire brigade remained under-resourced in 2017

KARACHI: During the year 2017, more than 4,000 incidents of fire were reported in the city, of which 11 incidents were major.

The highest number was reported in December when 499 fires occurred, while the lowest number, 191, was reported in July.

Among the fire incidents in the city in 2017, 11 blazes could be counted as major incidents as they were declared third degree fires. Majority of these blazes erupted at textile factories and warehouses.

The fire that erupted at a warehouse in New Sabzi Mandi took 24 hours to be extinguised. Similarly, the fire that broke out at a warehouse in Korangi Industrial Area in the last week of December kept the fire brigade officials busy for 12 hours. Another fire that erupted at 5pm at a towel factory in the New Karachi industrial area could only be controlled by the next morning at 5am. Likewise, some fire incidents in the SITE area in 2017 took many hours to be controlled.

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Many stations of the fire brigade remained non-functional in 2017 and many fire tenders could not be utilised due to non-maintenance. In some incidents, the fire brigade did not have enough vehicles to send to the fire site due to which the extinguishing work took more than the usual time, resulting in loss of property and damage to buildings’ structure which should could have been avoided.

In terms of the city’s requirements, the fire brigade remained short of resources in 2017. For a population of 22 million, only 22 fire stations were there in the city against the required number of at least 200 stations.



Sharing figures, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Chief Fire Officer Tehseen Siddiqui said 4,010 cases of fire were reported in Karachi in 2017 while the number of reported cases in 2016 was 4,127. Number of fire incidents in 2015 and 2014 were 4,058 and 4,754 respectively, Siddiqui said.

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The chief fire officer also informed that major fire incidents in 2017 were 11 in comparison to 13 such incidents in 2016.

An embarrassing situation

The metropolis also faced a humiliating situation in terms of fire security in 2017 when the helpline number of fire brigade, 16, was closed down in April. It has been around nine months since then but the helpline has yet to be restored.

The helpline was shut down after its control room, situated at the Civic Centre, was removed. The eelevant authorities did not bother to shift the control room to another location.

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Now, in case of fire, Karachi residents have to call the police helpline 15 after which the police informs the fire brigade about the fire. Absence of any direct contact between the Karachi residents and fire brigade often results in delay in the extinguishing work.

The fire was minor in nature and burnt a computer and a UPS

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