Fire takes no holidays. Isn’t it? Every day the world witnesses one fire tragedy or the other. There is an African proverb that goes, ” No chicken will fall into the fire a second time”. Wasn’t the Notre Dame Cathedral fire a signal for the world to review its preparation for future fire accidents if any? Recently, India faced the devastating Surat fire tragedy. Are we prepared to handle fires, small or big, in our homes, offices, schools, labs, factories, malls or any place for that matter? Yesterday, acting on a PIL, the Gujarat HC directed the state government to seal those buildings that violate the building bye-laws and cancel their licences. But, I wonder if that action is enough? I don’t think so.
The unfortunate Surat fire accident on May 24 which took the lives of so many students in a coaching centre is a grim reminder that, in India, every day there is a perpetual threat to life and property from fire hazards owing to the laxity and inexperience in handling the fire-fighting systems.
The inexperience is because the periodic or routine fire-fighting drill is not done in most places (homes/offices) in India owing to the fact that the conventional wall-mounted red coloured fire-extinguishers are heavy, not easy to use and once used, they have to be sent for recharging which costs some money. So, the general public feeling is, why unnecessarily go through the hassle of emptying a conventional red coloured fire-extinguisher and, subsequently, find an agency to recharge it and spend money and time. Most people downplay the fire threat they face round the clock. This mentality explains why even small fires at homes/ ‘jhuggis’/ slum dwellings are not doused because of lack of training. Since most buildings in India do not have proper fire exits as seen in the recent Surat fire incident, a lack of confidence, panic and shock due to lack of training in combating small fires results in a disaster and the price is high.
Recently, I came across the new D-I-Y (Do It Yourself) educational fire-extinguisher ‘Twin Blaster‘ kit from the Innovation Lab of Dr. Samrat Ghosh, IISER Mohali for dousing common fires from burning of wood (Surat accident), cloth, paper, volatile solvents (alcohol), dried leaves/shrubs (leading to wild forest fires) in the initial stages itself.
It will be an indispensable fire-fighting system for homes, nursing homes, elderly homes, hospitals, schools, colleges, laboratories. Because of its affordable cost, hassle-free maintenance, easy operation by anyone unlike conventional red coloured fire-extinguishers, this new swadeshi innovation seems to be a smart alternative to the existing systems. It can also be recharged immediately at a fraction of the cost and time by anyone as soon as the contents of the “Twin Blaster” are used up in fire-fighting.
When I contacted Dr.Samrat he said, “Another issue with conventional red coloured fire-extinguisher is that the contents are ejected with such high pressure that it could lead to the following problems: (1) the abrupt high pressure release makes the user fumble not used to handling such fire-fighting systems, which might lead to a freak accident as could be seen in the Japanese video, as it is unable to handle the fire-extinguisher properly and gets the high-pressure cold blast on her face; (2) the high pressure ejection could disintegrate a pile or heap of burning material like paper leading to fire debris flying all over and starting secondary fire now over a wider area creating more panic and chaos. On the other hand, the pressure from my “Twin Blaster” fire extinguisher does not cause such problems which makes it very user-friendly for all age groups and genders and at the same time operable from a safe distance.”
Apart from being economical, the Twin Blaster is also eco-friendly, as it contributes in saving precious water where every drop counts both during fire-fighting and after, in cleaning the debris and mess left behind compared to conventional fire-extinguishers. The Twin Blaster container is nothing but discarded soda bottles again adding to the eco-friendly factor. Dr Ghosh’s earlier innovation (smoke-free super green firecracker) too could be integrated and employed brilliantly as a green fire alarming system.
These unique features of the “Twin Blaster” make it possible to have frequent fire-fighting drills, training and exercises at homes, educational institutions and other places which will instil confidence in people of all age groups in firefighting. It will help in avoiding the panic and shock which normally grips those when they encounter even a small blazing fire for the first time.
Dr. Ghosh plans to either patent this innovation or to transfer the idea to any willing startups or entrepreneurs for further stages of development, like marketing etc. As and when it hits the market, it will be a big boon for us all in fighting fires. This innovation is a big step, much-needed development and necessity for us all. The other fire safety and research departments in India can take note of this innovation and help in its outreach to the people as early as possible. Be well equipped and prepared for any ‘agnipariksha’. A fire has no brothers, as they say. And the Surat fire tragedy served as a warning, before a bigger causes more damage.