Fire engine still kept in quake-damaged building

Kathmandu, May 26

Fire engines should be kept in good working condition and a safe place. But almost 13 months since the devastating Gorkha earthquake, two fire engines are still kept in a dilapidated building in New Road.

Ananta Ram Baidya, a retired engineer, said he was taken aback when he saw the condition of Juddha Fire Brigade Office. “The building could collapse anytime. Keeping the fire engines in a damaged building is risky as it also poses a grave risk to firemen.

The building is badly damaged and the bricks that fell from its walls still remain strewn on the adjoining footpath,” said Baidya.

According to him, fire engines should be moved to safer buildings within 24 hours if the existing building becomes unsafe. He also urged the metropolitan authorities not to compromise on public safety.

Chief of the fire brigade office Kishor Kumar Bhattarai said they were not authorised to move the fire engines without orders from the metropolitan authorities. The existing fire brigade building was constructed after the 1934 earthquake.

“We do not want to keep the fire engines in a damaged building but we cannot move them without orders from the Kathmandu Metropolitan City and the Ministry of Home Affairs,” he said.

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City, however, claimed that the land where the fire building stands is owned by the Department of Immigration. “We could start the process to transfer ownership of the land but the Department of Archaeology has refused us permission to demolish the building,” said KMC Chief Executive Officer Rudra Singh Tamang.

Director general of DoA Bhesh Narayan Dahal said if KMC submitted the proposed design, the department could give permission to the fire brigade office to construct a new building.

He, however, said that the department would not permit construction of a multi-storey building.