Dotted With High-Rises, Tehran Needs Aerial Firefighters

The low budget allocated to the Firefighting Department is said to be one of the reasons behind the Plasco Building collapseThe low budget allocated to the Firefighting Department is said to be one of the reasons behind the Plasco Building collapse

Tehran has become a city of high-rises, many of which are unsafe and insecure, and therefore aerial firefighters like well-equipped helicopters and other air resources to combat fires in tall buildings is a necessity for the metropolis, said Abolfazl Qanaati, a member of Tehran City Council (TCC), following the Plasco Building blaze and collapse on Thursday. 

Aerial firefighting is the use of aircraft and other aerial resources, often used to combat wildfires in western countries. Smokejumpers and rappellers are also classified as aerial firefighters, delivered to the fire by parachute from a variety of fixed-wing aircraft, or rappelling from helicopters. Chemicals used to fight fires may include water, water enhancers such as foams and gels, and specially formulated fire retardants.

Responding to a query on the types of firefighting vehicles used by the Tehran Firefighting Department, he said at present both domestically-produced and imported firefighting machines and equipment are utilized by the department. “However, many of them are outdated and should be replaced with new firefighting machines,” Eqtesadonline quoted him as saying. 

Referring to a fire incident two years ago in the capital when two women employees lost their lives due to a fire at a tailoring workshop on Jomhouri Street, he said at the time it was stated that because of outdated and worn-out firefighting apparatus, “timely help for the two women couldn’t be provided, resulting in their deaths.”

Shortly after the incident, a bill was approved by the TCC with provisions to improve the quality of facilities and equipment at fire stations, since from among the 141 firefighting vehicles, 56 were found to be outdated and needed replacements.

Based on the bill, this fiscal year which ends in March, the Tehran Municipality (TM) had been obliged to pay 2% of the building safety charges (collected from non-residential buildings and calculated based on their land area, location, risk coefficient, etc) in the fiscal that ends in March -- $35 million (1,400 billion rials) -- to the Firefighting Department. However, so far, only $5.4 million has been allocated, Qanaati said. 

On January 19, Plasco, a 17-story commercial building in central Tehran collapsed after a huge fire broke out on its upper floors. Some councilors say that the low budget allocated to the department is one of the reasons that contributed to the building collapse, although the brave firefighters did their best with the equipment they had at their disposal to contain the blaze.

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