Bicholim fire station faces space crunch

ramesh Savaikar | NT
BICHOLIM: The Bicholim fire service station, which is functioning from a government multipurpose building at the old bus stand here, faces problem of space crunch.

The fire personnel always find it difficult in moving out fire tenders from the premises of the complex, when they have to attend to emergency calls.
Local MLAs in the past and even today, along with residents of the town, have been making demand for a new fire service station that would have sufficient space and one which is centrally located, but in vain. 
This fire service station, located in the government multipurpose building, was inaugurated in 1987.  However, demand for a new fire station with adequate space, more facilities and advanced fire-fighting equipment remains unfulfilled.
The fire personnel from this fire station have to attend to emergency calls from whole of Bicholim taluka that comprises of two towns – Bicholim and Sanquelim and 17 panchayats spread over three constituencies – Sanquelim, Mayem and Bicholim.  Besides, there are three liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder godowns, two saw mills, two theatres, one explosive godown, five petrol pumps, two markets and one industrial estate, for which the fire station personnel have to be on the guard to handle any exigency.  Apart from this, there are fragments of hilly areas spread over different parts of the taluka where mainly cashew plantations are found. Annually several fire incidents are reported in the cashew plantations and the crop damages run into lakhs of rupees. 
During major fire incidents, if reported in Valpoi or Mapusa, the fire personnel from this fire station are summoned.
According to sources, the fire station staff comprises of one fire station officer, one sub- officer, five leading fire fighters, five driver operators and 12 other fire personnel. This station is equipped with two fire tenders and one ambulance. However, there is very little space to keep these vehicles at the complex. Both fire tenders are also old. In this view, there is also a demand for a new fire tender for the fire station.
The fire services, however, have sufficient water sources for fire hydrants which are 19 in number. The hydrants are installed at the industrial estate, old bus stand, market, primary health centre and the ITI at Vhalshi. Besides, there are also three overhead water reservoirs.
Residents say that the services rendered by the fire personnel during any emergency are commendable. “The fire personnel are always geared up to handle emergency with courage, ensuring that maximum property is saved from damage,” stated Mr Cajetan Vaz, a merchant and social worker from Bicholim.
Ex-minister and ex-Bicholim MLA, Mr Pandurang Raut said that he had planned to sort out these problems during his ministerial tenure but things did not materialise.
“Bicholim needs a new fire station and a new police station which can be built at the present police station. These two stations can be linked with the bypass road by constructing a culvert on Bicholim nullah. The government has to look into these things,” Mr Raut stated.
Mr Rajesh Patnekar, another ex-Bicholim MLA, also stressed on the need for having a new fire station in the taluka.
“Incidents of tree fall, house collapse, fire are mainly reported in rural areas. Emergency calls relating to road accidents have also increased compared to previous years. In this view, fire services personnel should be more equipped and efficient,” Mr Patnekar stated.
Mr Vijaykumar Verenkar, ex-chairperson of Sanquelim Municipal Council (SMC), felt that there could be a separate fire station for Sanquelim constituency due to its vastness.
When contacted, Bicholim MLA, Mr Naresh Sawal said that the proposal for a new fire station and a new police station, which was moved by him, has been approved by the Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar.
“Necessary provisions for a full-fledged fire station and a police station have been made in the proposal. Acquisition of land admeasuring 10,000 square metres near Bicholim police quarters for a fire station and police station is in the offing,” Mr Sawal stated, while speaking to ‘The ‘Navhind Times.’ 
Further he said the government is also fully aware of the need for new fire tenders at the existing fire station. “I will take initiative to see that this demand is also fulfilled on top priority,” Mr Sawal added.