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Sunday, 20 January 2002  
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Government - Gazette

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Colombo Fire Brigade ready for any emergency


The Colombo Fire Brigade (CFB) which is once again vested under the Colombo Municipal Council, bids to discharge its duties with greater vigour than before, Fire Chief Jayampathy Kannangara told the `Sunday Observer'. Mr. Kannangara said that the CFB is geared to tackle any form of fire, be it a major one or not, in the quickest possible time in the Colombo city or in the suburbs.

Mr. Kannangara said that the scarcity of water, especially in the Colombo Fort, was a big problem for fire control. The fire brigade has already identified 40 underground hydrants in Fort alone that could be used to obtain the required quantity of water in an exigency in the event of a fire emerging.

Repairs and servicing of the hydrants are now in progress to meet any fire contingency that may erupt with greater emphasis on strategic places like the Janadhipathi Mawatha, Chatham Street and the Colombo National Hospital.

In spite of all these access to water sources, the CFB also exploits sea water when the necessity arises. The assistance of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) fire division is also sought in fire fighting by inter-connecting a number of fire hoses, each measuring 15 metres.

However, sea water dousing could be made available only for fires emerging in Fort, where the practice of using sea water had proved a success in the past. The CMC has allocated a sum of Rs.45 million for the year 2002, specifically for the purchase of vehicles, required for fire fighting such as engines, aerial ladder platforms and fire pumps.

The fire brigade vested under the CMC from the Air Force last July, will also strengthen its fleet by recruiting 100 more fire fighters early next year. Currently, it has a cadre of 180 firemen, which is considered insufficient.

Some open water sources too have been identified within the city including the Beira Lake which comes under the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and the Hotel Intercontinental swimming pool, according to Mr. Kannangara.

The Intercontinental swimming pool water had been of tremendous use during the Central Bank fire in 1996.

Plans are also under way to use water from swimming pools of five-star tourist hotels in the city in an emergency. The Water Works Division of the CMC is probing into ways and means of diverting water from the city water mains to douse any fire in an exigency.

As a latest measure in the control of fires, the CFB initiated a 'familiarisation visits' program recently. Strategic installations in the city such as the Kelanitissa power station, BMICH, Parliament complex, and high-rise buildings were selected for the purpose.

The access roads to these installations, water sources, the type of fire fighting techniques needed would be studied beforehand, Mr. Kannangara said.

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