The Telegraph
Thursday , April 1 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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City centre twin base for skylifts

The two functional skylifts of the fire services department would soon be shifted to the city centre.

The army has allowed the department to keep a skylift outside the river traffic guard office at Babughat. Structural changes would be made in the fire services headquarters building on Free School Street so that it can house the other skylift.

The director-general of fire services on Tuesday evening ordered the modifications to be carried out.

“We have granted permission to the fire services to keep a skylift on army land near the river traffic guard at Babughat,” said wing commander Mahesh Upasani, a defence ministry spokesperson.

The fire department came under fire last week because the skylifts reached Stephen Court at 3.30pm, after the fire had raged in the building for nearly 90 minutes and five persons had jumped to death.

“We received flak from all quarters for keeping the skylifts outside the city when there are so many fire-prone highrises in central Calcutta. As a result, we have decided to keep both skylifts at the city centre,” said a fire department officer.

The two skylifts — one 54 metres and the other 68 metres tall — are currently at fire stations at Behala and Sector V. The gates of the fire services headquarters are not big enough for the gadgets to roll in and out. A smaller skylift kept at the Free School Street address does not work.

Fire services officers had brought one of the skylifts to Babughat on Sunday afternoon to assess whether it could be kept outside the river traffic guard office and wrote to the army to seek its permission. A temporary shed has been planned there to house the 54m-tall skylift.

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