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Mumbai: Fire balls to put out fire; BMC puts them to the test

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Fire balls can douse small fires within 6 seconds; BMC tests them on Mohammed Ali Road.

In the wake of two recent fire accidents – one in a Malad shop and the other in a Goregaon building, which claimed five lives – the BMC has found a way to contain unforeseen fires before they turn into fierce blazes. The BMC B-Ward is testing ‘fire balls’ for auto-fire protection (AFP) on Mohammed Ali Road, an area prone to such accidents.

According to assistant commissioner of B-Ward, Udaykumar Shiroorkar, this device can extinguish a fire in six seconds. “Fire extinguishers have A, B and C category and are used differently for oil, chemical and paper (or cloth). They need an expert to operate and have an expiry date of six months. A fire ball, when thrown into a flame, extinguishes it within seconds. The smoke emitted is non-poisonous and covers an area of three cubic-metres or a 10 sq ft room with a 10-ft ceiling. It is easy to carry and can be used for all the three categories of fire,” said Shiroorkar.

Apart from several undisclosed ingredients, a fire ball mainly contains ammonium nitrate. “We have decided to use it on Mohammed Ali Road as thousands of people visit the place every day during the month of Ramadan. Roadside food stalls use tandoor, gas cylinders and open containers with oil. The hydrants are of no use as nobody knows how to operate them. On the other hand, fire balls can be kept next to the stove to prevent a calamity. It can also be used in a car or at home,” said Shiroorkar.

Elaborating on its advantages, he said that it’s light weight and suitable for use by everyone. “It works automatically when it comes in contact with fire or flame, but not very high temperature. When it explodes, the built-in system sounds a harmless 138 decibel alarm. One requires no training to use it; it can be thrown with one hand into the fire. The product is non-toxic and has a lifespan of five years,” said Shiroorkar, adding that a larger fire can be suppressed when more than one fire ball is used.

We have decided to use it on Mohammed Ali Road as thousands of people visit the place every day during the month of Ramadan. Roadside food stalls use tandoor, gas cylinders and open containers with oil. The hydrants are of no use as nobody knows how to operate them. On the other hand, fire balls can be kept next to the stove to prevent a calamity.
-Udaykumar Shiroorkar, Assistant Commissioner, B Ward

 
Ashok Ravat, a metallurgist, said that all commercial establishments should be provided with AFPs or fire balls. “It may not douse a fire completely but it can help contain it until the fire brigade arrives,” said Ravat.

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