On January 7, 17-year-old Pranjal Jirawala was killed in a fire in her family’s seventh-floor apartment at Orchid Green Society in Shahibaug. One major factor behind her death was the Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services (AFES), as the fire ladder deployed was unable to reach the seventh floor, at a height of 21 metres.
AFES has hydraulic fire snorkel ladders for tall buildings of two ratings, 54m and 80m. There are 50-odd buildings between 45m and 70m high in the city. Most of these are in western parts of the city, and their nearest fire station is Thaltej, which is equipped with an 80m fire snorkel ladder.
However, this piece of equipment has been dysfunctional for the last month. The 54m fire snorkel ladders are stationed at Jamalpur and Nikol fire stations.
The 80m fire snorkel ladder at Thaltej has been out of service for the last month. In case of a fire, the fire brigade will have to deploy snorkels from Jamalpur or Nikol fire stations. This could take 15 to 20 minutes.
The 80m platform needs repairs which are estimated to cost Rs 9.5 lakh. A proposal to get this repair work done has been prepared and will be tabled in the standing committee meeting.
In the last year, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) approved six buildings that are more than 100m tall. AFES is proving to be a dwarf in its rescue operations due to the lack of necessary firefighting equipment.
In December 2021, AFES had demanded a 100m hydraulic snorkel under its five-year development plan, however, as the cost of this equipment is about Rs 40 crore, the civic body has not taken a decision on it yet.