High fire risk in dry winter season

Fire brigade faces shortage of necessary equipment to deal with blazes in the city

Our Correspondent November 06, 2017
Fire engulfs a wood warehouse in Karachi. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: Dry weather in Karachi may result in a rise in fires and citizens should take precautionary measures in order to avoid loss of life and property due to such blazes. The likelihood of fire eruption increases in the winter because the humidity level generally remains low during this period. Chief Fire Officer Tehseen Siddiqui said this while talking to Daily Express.

Over the years, Karachi has been witnessing a surge in fires in the months from November till February. Commenting on the phenomenon, Siddiqui citied various factors for it. The foremost reason for the increase in blazes, according to him, is the low moisture in the air. Being a counteragent against fire, water, even when it is present in the form of vapours in the air, counters agents which cause fire. Therefore, in the winter when the weather is generally dry, the likelihood of fire incidents increases.

The chief fire officer added that many human activities during the winter also raise the chances of fires. Many people burn wood and other fuel out on lanes and roads in order to keep themselves warm. After having warmed themselves, they often depart leaving the fuel burning. In such cases, wind sometimes disperses sparks which cause fire.

Siddiqui also cited illegal power connections, locally called kundas, as one of the major factors which result in fires in shacks. In places where shacks are located, people often use kundas for power connections. When the wind blows, it often creates electric sparks at points where kundas have been connected to electric wires. These sparks fall on shacks which are made of wood, dry leaves and other combustible materials and results in blazes that often engulf all shacks in the area.

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The chief fire officer advised residents to take precautionary measures to help reduce incidents of fire. He requested citizens to make sure that they have switched off all gas connections before they go to sleep. He also called for not using gas heaters as they sometimes result in blazes and deaths due to carbon monoxide inhalation.

Dismal statistics

Sharing statistics, the chief fire officer said a total of 3,633 major and minor fire incidents have been recorded in the city in the first 10 months of the year. The fire brigade extinguished most of the blazes easily. However, in some cases the task was arduous, especially when the site of blaze was not easily accessible for fire tenders due to narrow lanes en route, Siddiqui said.

In 2014, 2015 and 2016, the fire brigade recorded 4,754, 4,508 and 4,127 fire incidents in the city respectively.

According to Siddiqui, there are a total 21 fire stations in the city which have 48 fire tenders. However, out of the 48 fire tenders, only 11 are in good shape. It is an alarming situation, as the number of fire tenders is too meagre to fulfil the requirements of a metropolis like Karachi. There should be at least 200 fire tenders in working condition in the city, Siddiqui asserted.

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The chief fire officer, however, added that the repair work of the out-of-order fire tenders has been started. Workshops have been established in Landhi and Sohrab Goth where fire tenders are being repaired, he said.

Likewise, the fire brigade is short of snorkels in a city full of high-rise buildings. According to Siddiqui, the department has only three snorkels of which, only one is in the working condition.

Credit should be given to our committed staff which, despite the shortage of necessary equipment, always succeeds in putting out blazes whenever they occur, Siddiqui said.


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