Permanent barracks for 26 firemen will be built near the HRBC building at Mandirtala, the new seat of power until renovations at Writers’ Buildings are over.
The decision was taken following an assessment of the possible fire hazards in the 15-storey building that will house 11 departments, including the chief minister’s office.
Other than the barracks, the government has decided to place a 70m hydraulic lift that can rise to 21 storeys.
“An exit will be made on the terrace in front of the chief minister’s chamber on the top floor so that she can access the sky lift in case of an emergency,” an official said.
Mamata Banerjee and officials of the 11 departments are set to move into the new address next month.
A plot adjacent to the building has been identified and construction of the firemen’s quarters will start soon. A posse of 26 fire personnel will be kept ready 24x7 to tackle any emergency in the building.
Fire department sources said this would be the first Bronto hydraulic lift to be stationed at any highrise in and around Calcutta. Besides, a fire tender would be placed round the clock near the building.
“We will require staff in different categories to operate the Bronto lift and the fire tender stationed outside Nabanna (the name Mamata has given to her new office). This is one reason why the decision was taken to build the barracks for firemen in the vicinity,” said a senior official of the fire department.
“The barracks will be built along the ramp leading to the building from the toll plaza off Vidyasagar Setu,” he added.
Before the barracks come up, the fire department has decided to carry out a safety drill at the building to assess its firefighting readiness.
The drill is slated for September 28, before the chief minister moves into the address across the Hooghly in the first week of October.
The department has also suggested a slew of fire safety measures to the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners that owns the towering building.
“We have asked the HRBC officials to ensure that adequate fire check doors are in place in the lobby outside the lifts on each floor,” an official said. “Such a door helps create an isolated place where people can take shelter from the smoke in a fire emergency.”
Other measures include adequate hydrants, sprinklers and smoke detectors on each floor. “The more the better because the alarm system might not work properly if we install just a few smoke detectors.”
Senior HRBC officials said the storage capacity of the underground tank was over 2.5lakh litre, enough to handle an emergency.
“To ensure continuous supply of water to the tank, we will bore two deep tubewells,” said a senior engineer overseeing arrangements at the new secretariat.