Minor fire exposes the lack of firefighting infra at rly station

Sushant Ranjan
Tuesday, 2 January 2018

“There was a big fire in November 2014, in which the entire women’s dormitory, the CMO of Army unit as well as resting rooms for Government Railway Police (GRP) was turned to charcoal." said Harsha Shah

PUNE: A minor fire broke out at a storeroom of the conservancy staff at the Pune Railway Station on Monday afternoon on platform number 1. 

The authorities ordered the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to investigate the matter and submit a report by Tuesday.

According to sources from railways, the incident happened at 11.50 am near the general waiting area close to the parcel office towards Mumbai end of the platform number 1. 

Billows of smoke were raised after bleaching soda and floor cleaning acid stored by a housekeeping contractor in a room near the passenger waiting area got mixed accidentally. 

The fire brigade was called. It took about half-an-hour for RPF personnel to control the situation. 

“There were rumours that the incident was a result of a short circuit from batteries stored in the room,” said the sources.

“It is not clear how acid and bleaching powder got mixed. It caused smoke in the room, which spread to the sitting area. There was panic but the RPF personnel brought the situation under control and doused the fire. The fire brigade was called but the situation was brought under control before the fire tenders arrived,” said Manoj Jhanwar, Public Relations Officer (PRO), Pune Division.

Harsha Shah, an activist who heads the Railway Pravasi Sangh, used the opportunity to raise the issue of fire-readiness at the Pune railway station. She alleged there was no access route convenient for a fire tender to enter the railway premise in case of emergency. 

“There was a big fire in November 2014, in which the entire women’s dormitory, the CMO of Army unit as well as resting rooms for Government Railway Police (GRP) was turned to charcoal. Even after three years, they have not learnt a lesson as there has been no improvement in the firefighting infrastructure at the station. There’s no easy access to platforms for fire tenders to enter. All routes are either too narrow or have been blocked. The scenario is worse for the other five platforms as there is no way a fire tender can reach there. God knows what would happen if a fire breaks out at platform number 4 or 5,” said Shah. 

She said localised firefighting equipment is not seen on the platforms. 

“It should be inbuilt. Such incidents expose the talk by Indian Railways about making the Pune station world-class,” said Shah.

Prashant Ranpise, Chief Fire Officer, Pune Municipal Corporation, said there was no way fire tenders can enter the station. “You have to park fire tenders outside and carry hoses and equipment inside,” said Ranpise.

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