‘Injuries could have been avoided if firemen had worn new uniform’

In the wake of the recent fire at Kemps Corner's Mont Blanc building, in which seven people were killed and five firemen injured, fire officials said the firefighters could have avoided injuries had they properly worn the uniforms given to them four years ago. Firemen, however, feel that the uniforms are bulky and uncomfortable.

The 2,500-odd superior quality uniforms called private protective equipment (PPE), costing around Rs 60,000 each, have been embroiled in controversy ever since they were imported in February 2010.

Senior fire officials said the new uniforms are of international standard and used in Dubai, which experiences weather similar to Mumbai's.

However, Chief Fire Officer A N Varma said, "The firemen had refused to wear them earlier. There have been many complaints about the uniforms on various grounds."

"Most of the firemen refuse to wear the complete uniform provided by the fire brigade. Had these firemen worn the full uniform including a fire hood on the face and gloves, they would not have been injured so badly," he said.

However, firemen say that these uniforms are heavy and stuffy and cause discomfort while fighting fire. "These uniforms are not suitable for the weather in this city," said a fireman.

The firemen had earlier refused to wear the expensive kit which includes a two-piece body suit of fire- and heat-resistant synthetic material, helmets with protective visors, helmets with lights, gloves and boots, in-built radios, breathing apparatus and neck shields. Later, the firemen realised that the uniforms were ill-fitting.

The fire brigade had also admitted to not having enough space to store those uniforms.

sharvari.patwa@expressindia.com

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