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Rural cops to fight fire too

Several rural police stations across the state, including Patna, have been given 67 mini fire tenders with “mist technology”.

Officials of Bihar fire services said more mist technology vehicles would be brought in later with operational training being imparted to two policemen.

“These are small fire tenders, which has a 300-litre water tank and a 50-litre foam tank, too. Two persons can easily handle the Rs 10-lakh vehicle and the equipment after a short training session,” said a fire department official.

“The summer months witness a lot of fire incidents all across the state, including Patna. Though the current figures in connection with the number fire incidents are not readily available with the department, more than 80 per cent of the incidents have taken place in the rural areas, particularly in the slums and villages which generally have thatched homes made of hay and other flammable things,” the official told The Telegraph.

Sources said in the urban areas, including Patna, the average response time — the period for any fire tender to reach the spot — is around 30 minutes.

“The response time depends on the distance and the traffic load. In some cases, the distance from the fire station to the incident site may be less but then reaching the spot might be difficult and thus time is consumed. In the rural areas, things are even more difficult as the fire services unit do not take GPS maps or other state-of-the-art technologies, which can help in the quick identification of the village or the locality. In the rural areas, the response timing is at present rests at 40 to 45 minutes,” the official added.

“Since most of the fire incidents occur in the rural areas, the police stations located in those areas are being provided with mist technology vehicles. During delivery, a short training is given to the cops so that they can handle such incidents. Each of these vehicles costs Rs 10 lakh. The police have a good idea about their jurisdiction and know the right path to reach any spot. Moreover, their information network is also strong. In case of fire, these mini tenders will move immediately and simultaneously the information regarding the same will be sent out by the cops to the nearest fire station,” the officer added.

Patna had witnessed a major fire incident on Sunday when more than a dozen houses in a slum area near the Hartali Mor were gutted. The same night had witnessed another fire incident of a bigger magnitude hitting a slum at Punaichak.

On March 15, another fire hit the Pushpanjali Place Marketing Complex in the Boring Road area destroying at least three to four shops.

Officials claimed that they have enough resources to deal with fire accidents. “We have laid down some dos and don’ts for the people (see chart). These are precautionary measures and abiding by them will indeed save property and lives. There are six major fire stations in the Patna district — Lodipur, Patna City, Kankerbagh, Phulwarisharif, Sachivalaya and Danapur. The Lodipur fire station has four fire tenders, the one in Patna City has three tenders, Kankerbagh has one, Sachivalaya has got two, Phulwarisharif has got one tender and Danapur has got two tenders. There are three foam tenders at present,” the official said.