Maheep Singh Thapar
The main author is a student of Urban and Regional Planning
in the School of Planning CEPT, Ahmedab
Senior Systems Executive in ESRI India
According to the Census of India there were 23, million-plus cities in the country.By estimates this number will double by 2001. These cities, where the economies are concentrated, the teeming sea of millions are getting crammed up in the overly congested areas.
Such a concentration of humans in numbers as well as activities make the common man vulnerable to various kinds of risks arising from any kind of emergency situation out of the complicated urban life.
Emergency situations require a quick and focussed response as human life and property may be involved.
It is recognised now that the greater proportion of poor quality housing, inadequate planning, monitoring and control in any country in metropolitan cities, which become overpopulated, hence are more prone to fire and other urban disasters. One of the essentials, more especially in congested cities is the need for priority to be given to proper and adequate fire protection measures.
In the past the absence of proper regulation, legislation and planning particularly in the matter of fire protection and related activities resulted in increasing fire losses. Due to the rapid increase in population, industrialisation, rapid rise in new colonies, construction of high rise buildings etc, the fire risk in the cities has been tremendously increased.
The fire service in the cities not only protect its population from fire risks but also rescue human being from house collapse, drowning, road accidents and other emergencies. Animals that are trapped in nallahs, debris, wells, floods and rivers etc. are also rescued by this service. It is therefore one of the very important public service required to be proceeded on a realistic bases in all the cities, but it is hard fact that adequate attention has not been paid regarding its importance.
Fire risks in urban areas have undoubtedly increased over the years and the rising cost of fire losses would seem to indicate that they are increasing at a greater rate than the measures devised to control them. With the cities growing in size and complexity day by day they need to be managed more and more efficiently. Aspects like planning and management of fire services should form a part of Urban Management as a whole. The future holds many new things for urban centres in India as well as for the whole wolrd. The fast pace of modernisation will bring very different styles of living. With the emergence of e-commerce and internet technology the very dimensions of distance, communication and trade and also crime will change and bring in new array of problems as well. The threat of urban terrorism looms large especially in countries like India. To combat such a dangerous and widespread challenge, technology can become a powerful ally in the fight against crime and can help combat any kind of emergency situation. There fore an integrated system will be required sooner or later.
Geographic Information Systems can become strong tools in handling large databases and analysing where a large number of variables are involved and help drastically in spatial decision making.
Objectives of the study
- To highlight the need for the study by establishing the magnitude of life, property and effort involved in fire safety and mitigation.
- To determine the risk zones based on the land use, building and activity in tune with the National Building Code guidelines.
- To find out the efficiency and the effectiveness of the fire services in the present condition keeping in view the cause and effect of the fires
- To come up with an Emergency Response Management System for the city using GIS as a decision making tool.
Analytical Framework ( part of the total methodology )
# Collection of Allied Information
- Location and other characteristics of slums which are vulnerable to fire as well rapid destruction.( Like number of households, population and density.)
- Location of Police Stations as important aspects of Emegency Response.
- Location of Water Filling Points as the major provision points of Fire Fighting Resource. To assess the time required for refilling water
# Overlay of maps
- Land Use
- Road Network
- Location of fire stations
- Ward boundaries
- Location of Slums
- Location of Police Stations.
- Location of Water Filling Points
- Finding out the causes of fires and how the accurate knowledge and upto date information can influence the response and the damage.
- Inputting the land use map and extracting the risk zones as per NBC guidelines as risk factor 1.
- Inputting the ward populations in the ward boundary map to get the population densities as risk factor 2.
- Locating the high densities slums as one example of high risk as risk factor 3.
- Distinguishing the existing Transportation network (roads) with respect to the Right of Ways
- Imparting journey speeds to all the links of the road network in terms of time impedances.
- Location and number of fire stations and the equipment available.
- Relating Land Use and the location of a Fire station depending on the risk of fire.
- Understanding the response procedure and finding out the constraints in reaching the site and mitigating the hazard.
- Response time wise coverage by each existing Fire Station for 3,5,7,9,11 minutes.
- Identification of poorly served areas ( areas with delayed service ).
- Analysing the characteristics of the poorly served areas basing the proposals accordingly.
Software and Hardware Used
The analogue maps were digitised using ARC/INFO and the rest of the analysis has been done in ArcView Network Analyst and Spatial Analyst Extensions on a PC (P II, 300 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 8 GB HDD).
From the analysis (see maps) we see that a lot needs to be done to improve the conditions regarding the risk factors and subsequently the response mechanism from the point of authorities point of view.
All aspects of the field need to be relooked. The following conclusions have been made regarding the aspect of fire safety and emergency response. The SFAC guidelines say that one fire station is required for every 10.24 square kilometers, one rescue van for every 10 lakhs population and an additional van for every next 10 lakhs and six pumping units for three lakhs and one for every one lakh. In the Indian conditions response time of three minutes cannot be reached therefore practical assumptions need to be made.
For example the Delhi Fire Service has at present 36 fire stations and an average response time of more than fifteen minutes it plans to reduce it to ten minutes but only with a strength of a total of 63 fire stations. That means a requirement of 27 more fire stations (source: DFS) The case of Hyderabad is not much different as with 10 fire stations only 40 percent of the city is covered with reasonable response time. To get an average response time of about 10 minutes there is a shortfall of 11 fire stations, three rescue vans and 27 fire tenders. One more important aspect that needs to be closely coordinated is the water supply. Every fire station should have it’s own water source and should be helped by the Hyderabad Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) in locating convenient outlets at required points. Inter departmental coordination is an important requirement for any integrated response system. The major conclusions are as follows:
- Inadequate Fire Stations
- Inadequate Equipment
- Inadequate Communication Facilities
- Lax Fitness Standards
- Low Skills and Training Standards
- Shortage of Staff
- Taxing Shift system
- Low Salaries and Incentives
- Lack of Funds / Financial Autonomy
- No Risk Zoning Exercise of the City Undertaken.
- More than Half of the City not covered under adequate response time during peak hour.
- Erratic Traffic and Narrow Streets as Impedimants
- Bad Road conditions
- Lack of Interdepartmental Coordination
- Lack of Public Awareness .
Location of New Facilities
11 more fire stations need to located in the required areas of Diamond Point, Mahendra Hills, Lalbazaar, Shanti Nagar, Saleem Nagar, Kanchan Bagh, Falaknuma, Jubilee Hills, Yousuf Guda and Shivam.
They should be located on a major road of minimum right of way 45 mtrs, appropriately located with respect to an intersection. In the proposed scenario 100 % of the city is covered within a response time of 10 minutes in peak time.
It should be noted that while planning for the new areas during the micro level land use planning the areas for such emergency facilities be given special attention and located in proximity under the public and semi public land use.
Also the study comes up with the startling state of Fire Services in Hyderabad City but also the fact that almost all Indian cities are in a very bad shape in terms of Fire Service and Fire Safety.
Doubling of fire stations and making appropriate changes just to cater to the existing need requires lots of expenditure (as in the case of Hyderabad) and according to the resource mobilisation status of the particular authority, plans should be projected and implemented in conjunction with the overall planning and development strategies of the city.
Integrated Response for Hyderabad City
- Detailed Maps (Analogue or Digital )
- Detailed Information regarding Land Use, Building Use, Transportation , Demographics, Infrastructure, Geology, Climate , other Socio-Economic Data etc
- Latest Communications Equipment
- Other Allied Technology
- High Specialist Skills and a trained staff
- Leadership and Motivation
- Supportive Government
- Public Awareness
There should be an Urban Emergency Management Department which should specialize in urban disasters and urban area characteristics.
All towns should have a well-equipped Fire Department as per the local requirement and to be directly supported by the Emergency Cell at any time as per the requirement.
The city of Hyderabad to have a common detailed digital map for municipal applications. The detailed road network to used by the transportation department, police, health and the fire department in conjunction with the Municipal Corporation.
There is a need to start of by identifying the stakeholders in such an exercise. Obviously a detailed and well-coordinated exercise is to be undertaken. The best thing to do would be to speed up the detailed municipal GIS effort which will be helpful for many uses as well as users. The latest GPS systems to be introduced for all the emergency services departments and equipment to be fitted in all fire tenders.
High Frequency wireless sets to be given to all high ranking officials and at least one fitted in each vehicle for total fleet connectivity and Inter Departmental Coordination.
In the case of an emergency call from anywhere in the city through a phone call after verifying that the call is true it will be immediately traced on the map zooming on to the selection and will be immediately pinpointed.
The control room will automatically find out the site of the fire, cause of the fire, nearest two tire stations, time taken for them to reach the fire site nearest police station and the shortest routes to the fire site from all of them.
As soon as the siren is sounded the fire vehicle will be turned out within a minute. Simultaneously the nearest police station will be informed over the wireless. Meanwhile the call would have been recorded in the automatic call-recording machine with the time in and the time out of the fire vehicle. As the vehicle moves it will be tracked with the help of GPS from the control room till it mitigates the emergency closely monitoring the water refilling or any other delays which may occur during the process. The fire vehicles on call will be in communication with the control room and the closest fire station on the common frequency.
Thus the whole emergency situation is monitored and due to transparency efficiency will be enhanced coupled with the modern and uptodate emergency equipment.
There is an urgent need to start making municipal GIS’s for all cities in the country as they have multiple uses and help in better services to people as well as efficient governance. A GIS based computerized and Integrated Emergency Response Management System for the city will not only improve the response in the existing conditions and thus saving precious life and property but also help in analyzing the various risk factors in the growing cities of today and to tackle any situation better in the future.
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