SMC to purchase 7 rescue cushions at Rs 13 lakh each

Surat city hit national headlines after a fire broke out at an illegal structure on the roof of the commercial building Takshashila Arcade in Sarthana area on May 24, this year. (Express photo by Hanif Malek)

Taking steps for better preparedness in the wake of the Takshashila fire tragedy, Surat Municipal Corporation is set to purchase seven inflatable cushions, known as jumping/rescue cushions, which are used to catch people jumping from burning buildings in the event of a fire, or other such emergencies.

These cushions will be stocked in all seven zones of the SMC. Using the cushion, which inflates in just 60 seconds, the life of a person jumping from up to 25 metres can be saved. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation already has such jumping cushions, but its falling limit is 9 metres.

Surat city hit national headlines after a fire broke out at an illegal structure on the roof of the commercial building Takshashila Arcade in Sarthana area on May 24, this year. The massive fire engulfed four floors and blocked the way to the emergency exits. A total of 22 students were killed in the fire, of which a few of them died jumping from the fourth floor to escape the blaze. Fire department sources said the students had jumped from a height of 16 metres.

After this incident, the SMC fire department has been stocked with better equipment and latest fire tenders. In addition, inflatable cushions are also being bought. On Wednesday evening, the fire department officials moved the proposal and a tender scrutiny committee gave the go-ahead for the purchase of seven jump/rescue cushions.

“We have identified an agency that will supply the jumping cushions. The price of a single jumping cushion is Rs 13 lakh, and we will purchase seven. We have seen the product and find it quite good,” Chief Fire Officer Basant Pareek said. “The weight of the cushion when folded is 94 kg while its length and width is 4.4 metres each while the height is 2.4 metres.”

Pareek said the cushions that are being purchased by the SMC are made by a US-based company named Vector, whose products adhere to “international standards” They will be supplied to SMC by an Ahmedabad-based agency, which has earlier supplied to a local body in Chhattisgarh, he added. “If a person jumps (on to the cushion) from 25-metre height, he/she will remain unhurt and a life can be saved,” the chief fire officer said. “The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has such jumping cushion with a limit of 9 metres falling distance.”