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Diwali fire emergencies breach 10-yr high in city

Fire emergencies in Delhi breached a 10-year high this Diwali as more than 400 calls were made to the Delhi Fire Services even as the festival witnessed incessant bursting of firecrackers notwithstanding appeals by authorities.

According to senior fire officials, 290 fire-related calls were received till midnight, of which 46 came before 2 pm  while 65 followed over the next six hours. They added that around 128 such calls were received in the next few hours till dawn. However, no casualties or major injuries were reported in any of the incidents, they said.

After 8 pm, the fire control room was bombarded with calls and 55 of them were received in the next two hours. The worst span was between 10 pm and 12 midnight as 124 fire incident-related calls were received. “This Diwali, we witnessed a record number of incidents for the past 10 years, despite there being so much of awareness campaigns for promoting safety during the festival, which in itself is very shocking,” said AK Sharma, Director of Delhi Fire Services. 

He further said that the fire department had effectively anticipated the situation and planned strategies accordingly.

A fire official said that from 12 midnight till 8 am on Thursday, the department received as many as 128 calls.

“Usually, the span between 6 pm and 9 pm is considered crucial as past record shows that the highest number of calls come during this period. But the trend changed this year with 151 calls received post 9 pm till midnight,” he added.

The fire services chief said that the strategies involved locating vulnerable spots and deploying adequate fire tenders, ensuring full attendance by cancelling all leaves and equipping the control room to deal with emergencies despite the severe staff crunch in the department. 

“We implemented the strategies to the best of our capacities and none of the fire incidents could take the shape of a major fire incident because of our alertness,” Sharma said.

“All calls which could potentially turn into major fire incidents were supervised by senior officials of the department. A review of the situation was done today morning,” he added.

Among the areas where fire incidents were reported on Diwali were the Bawana Industrial Area and Mukundpur on the northwest fringes of the city and the Madanpur Khadar, Pul Prahladpur, Jal Vihar and Okhla Phase-I areas in southeast Delhi, fire officials said.

Of the 220 fire-related calls received last year, 47 had come between 2 pm and 8 pm with 25 of these reported in the two-hour span between 6 pm and 8 pm. In 2013, the fire department had received around 75 calls in the corresponding two-hour span.

Delhi Fire Services had deployed fire tenders at 20 vulnerable locations in the city, including in congested areas and key market places, in addition to its 56 fire stations. 
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