Bicholim firemen have to first fight poor facilities


 Bicholim firefighters are working sans the required facilities, including hydrants, which are required to extinguish fires. 
Bicholim fire station, which has responded to various calls has saved 11 human and 47 animal lives in the past 14 months. 
The property saved due to fire and other accidents during this period was valued at 3.44 crore, though property gutted in fires and destroyed in other accidents was valued at 1.05 crore. 
Firemen during this period attended 331 fire emergencies and 207 other calls. 
If they were able to save lives, Bicholim firemen also saw 16 people lose their lives in accidents, while another 12 animals were killed. 
As not a single property was insured, those who suffered loses could not get any direct compensation. 
Presently Bicholim firemen face problems due to unavailability of fire hydrants at required places, besides low pressure of water from the hydrants. 
The fire tenders have to be taken to Sakhali to be refilled due to which during an emergency it could lead to a highly dangerous situation, sources said. 
"If fire breaks out in Bicholim then by the time fire tender goes to Sakhali to be refilled and returns the fire can spread and cause a major loss. There is acute need of hydrants with high water pressure in Bicholim area," sources said. 
The average life span of the two fire tenders at the disposal of Bicholim fire station has also expired. Sources said, the tenders need to be immediately replaced. They also do not have any insurance cover. 
Sources said, a hydrant located near the fire station has very low pressure while a second one near ITI Bicholim has broken down and needs urgent repairs. There is not a single hydrant situated in market area due to which if a major fire broke out in the market area, it would be difficult to control, sources said. 
Similarly the hydrants situated at the industrial estate also have very low pressure. As units at the industrial estate store chemicals, a fire here could be disastrous. 
Most fire stations in the state, including Bicholim, do not have any foam chemical that is required to control a fire caused by petrol or diesel, sources said. 
Bicholim fire station also faces a unique problem of two and four wheelers parked in front of the entry gate of the station prohibiting fire tenders from responding to emergencies quickly. 
"Very often the firemen waste time clearing the vehicles parked in front of the main entry gate. It is necessary that such vehicles should be fined by the RTO," sources said. 
The fire station building in Bicholim also needs urgent attention as it is in a dilapidated condition. 
Sources said, there is need to carry out electrical wiring and other necessary renovations in order to retain this building. [TOI]