“We had close to 60 firemen working throughout the day and the number will increase to 150 and 200 later in the night when more men arrive,” he informed.
Ehtashamuddin said that the fire escape did not provide enough space for them to take that route and termed the situation as “highly critical and complex”. “It could take us another several hours to completely extinguish the fire,” he said at 9:30 pm, exactly 12 hours after the fire had started.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Babar Ghauri has constituted a three-member investigation committee to look into the cause of the blaze. The committee will be headed by the chairman of the Karachi Port Trust.
The building was the head office of the PNSC and consisted of the offices of several other government and non-government organisations. It was also the camp office of minister Ghauri during his visits to the area. The fire completely destroyed the records and data of the PNSC and NESPAK and other companies.
When asked whether there was an AC plant on the roof, which was attached with its fuel tank, Ehtashamuddin admitted that this was the case, and in fact did pose as a serious threat for his men. He, however, said that the plants were normally attached to the roofs of such high buildings.
The PNSC building was built in 1971 after its foundation stone was laid in 1968 and was the tallest building of the city at that time. “This fire will badly affect structural strength of this building,” said noted town planner Arif Hassan.
It could not be ascertained if the building was equipped with proper alarms and emergency fire-fighting equipment.
In late night developments, an official of the CDGK Kazim Ali said that the fire was under control and would cool down by dawn. “Every fire department worldwide is responsible to ensure the extinguishing of fire upto 42 feet, responsibility for the rest lies with the owners. The building had a sprinkler system, which was defunct because all lines were jammed.”
(Daily Times-B1, 19/02/2007)
PNSC building fire put out
KARACHI, Feb 19: The intense fire that had gutted the top four floors of the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation Building on Sunday was finally put out in the early hours of Monday at after an 18-hour operation.
The offices of the National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak) and the PNSC on the top floors of the 14-storey building were completely destroyed.
The 14th floor, which housed the offices of the federal minister for ports and shipping, secretary and chairman and other senior officials of the PNSC were completely gutted.
At least 24 fire-fighting engines and three snorkels were pressed in to service to extinguish the fire which broke out on the 11th floor around 9:15am and later engulfed the other top floors.
A team has been formed to ascertain the cause.
City fire department lacks requisite equipment, training
KARACHI: Around a year ago, the City Nazim, Syed Mustafa Kamal, had promised provision of the latest fire fighting equipment, including six snorkels, worth Rs650 million to the Karachi fire brigade department by the end of 2006.
However, fire on the topmost storeys of the PNSC building on Sunday revealed that city fire brigade still had only one snorkel, around 20-years-old, which failed to help fire fighters extinguish the fire that had engulfed the 11th, 12th, 14th and 15th storeys of the high-rise.
According to some CDGK officials, the present City District Government- Karachi (CDGK) had also prepared a PC-I for the purchase of helicopter for city fire fighters to help them rescue persons trapped in buildings where they could not reach by the stairs or any other conventional means.
In Sunday’s conflagration, the city authorities had to seek the help of the Pakistan Navy for sending its helicopters to rescue six persons trapped in the PNSC building where fire destroyed precious records, equipment, and the entire offices of federal ministry of ports and shipping, Nespak, and many private firms.
Sunday’s fire and some previous incidents, including a blaze in a garment factory in the SITE area last month further reveals that fire department not only lacks proper equipment but its personnel also lack the requisite training to face such situations.
An official of the Karachi city fire brigade department on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to media told The News that despite pledges to furnish fire fighters the latest equipment, there was no progress in this regard as authorities only believe in making hollow claims.
He said that the majority of the newly-inducted firemen on a contractual basis are untrained and their inability to contain even minor fires was causing bad name to the already equipment-starved department.