Business Standard

Chemical fires challenging to douse, say fire officials


Press Trust of India New Delhi
The unknown nature of the chemical that leads to a fire makes "chemical fires" the most challenging to douse, according to officials.
On Monday, a fire broke out in three chemical factories that injured a fireman and a special officer of the Delhi Fire Service during the firefighting operation. There was also a blast that was triggered at the site.
"The firemen fighting the blaze had protection suits, but the nature of the chemical was not known to us. The owner was also not available to inform us about the nature of the chemical. It was during the firefighting operation that we got to know that the chemical was adhesive in nature and had made the floor slippery causing the two officials to slip on the floor," said Vipin Kental, director, Delhi Fire Service.
He said the chemicals are highly inflammable, but the firemen keep a safe distance while fighting such fires.
According to Chief Fire Officer Atul Garg, the department has 1,300 protection suits which also have masks to fight such fires.
Last week, a fire broke out in a chemical factory in Jhilmil Industrial area, but there were no casualties reported.
Garg said the risks involved in dousing fire in a chemical factory are many.
"There are many chemicals that start burning more when water is poured on them. When we go for a firefighting operation, we are not aware about how the chemical has been stored or its properties. It is only when we start the operation that we get to know how it reacts and if the fire cannot be doused by water, we use other methods to put out the fire," he added.
Witnesses, however claimed, that the firemen were having surgical masks and were coughing constantly due to the heavy smoke.
On Monday, the drums that stored the chemical, suspected to be spirit, exploded just when the firemen thought the fire had been brought under control. The impact of the explosion was such that fireman Naresh Kumar and special officer Aman were injured.
"The fire was a major one and there would have been casualties had it been a working day. Since it was a holiday, there were no casualties," an officer said .

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First Published: Apr 29 2019 | 9:20 PM IST

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