In a city where an average of three fires are reported every day, rescue officials complain that the government has not addressed problems they face, despite their pointing them out.
Rescue 1122 officials claim that only 10 of the fire hydrants, of a total of 76 in the city, are usable. The rest, they say, can’t be used because they do not match the specifications provided by them. Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) officials, however, insist that all 249 fire hydrants installed in city are in working order.
Rescue 1122 had requested the government to install fire hydrants after a Shah Alam Market blaze, on February 7, 2011, in which eight people were killed. It took fire fighters more than three days to put the fire out.
Three plazas and a mosque were razed to the ground as a result.
At the time, rescue officials had said that refilling fire trucks from water tankers had affected their efficiency.
A survey was conducted and 200 “critical points” were identified for the installation of fire hydrants. The list was then forwarded to Wasa to install the hydrants.
The fire hydrants that 1122 officials say are servicable are those installed at: Bandhara Centre Main Bazar Ichhra, Pakistani Chowk Ichhra, LOS Ferozepur Road, Jail Road near the Landmark Plaza, Origa Complex, Hafeez Centre, Madina Electronics Market in Shah Alam, Shah Alam near Allah Hoo Electronics, Lahore Plaza Sutlej Block Allama Iqbal Town and Shadara Town.
Rescue 1122 district officer Lahore said the 10 fire hydrants were not enough.
Rizwan Ahmad Chaudhry, an emergency officer with Rescue 1122 told The Express Tribune that 66 of the installed fire hydrants were not in line with the specifications provided by them. “Coupling of the hydrants does not match that of the fire trucks,” he said.
He said that at the 10 hydrants that could be used, there was no water pressure. Proper pressure should have been ensured, he said. “When we attach the pipes to the hydrants are we supposed to keep praying that the trucks get filled soon?” he said.
Naveed Pervez, the Wasa Deputy Managing Director, claimed the agency had installed 249 fire hydrants in the last two months. They are working fine, he said, adding that Rescue 1122 was yet to take control of the hydrants formally. “We installed 200 hydrants immediately after the proposal was sent to us,” claimed Pervez.
Asked about inadequate pressure, he said that the agency could not ensure pressure.
“How can we ensure pressure given our circumstances? Half of the city has no water due to loadshedding.”
Pervez said that they had suggested that Rescue 1122 carry pumps on their fire trucks to get better pressure. It is more feasible to install fourteen pumps rather than installing pumps at 249 points, he said.
Javeed Iqbal, the Wasa Managing Director, said that they would meet with Rescue 1122 officials and address their complaints.
“We will modify the hydrants where required,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2012.
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