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Helipads on skyscrapers to fight fires?

Staff Reporter

Construction of rooftop helipads made mandatory on high-rise buildings



Shape of things to come: A high-rise coming up at Manikonda.

HYDERABAD: Rooftop helipads on skyscrapers for fire-fighting operations? Sounds strange but it’s true. As more skyscrapers will dot the skyline in the State capital, the Andhra Pradesh Fire and Emergency Services Department has made construction of rooftop helipads mandatory on skyscrapers.

Permissions are being sought for construction of six high-rise buildings ranging from 28 to 100 floors both residential and commercial complexes at Kondapur, Gachibowli and Shamirpet. The hydraulic platform vehicle currently available with the Fire Department can handle fire situations in buildings up to 30 metres height (10 floors).

Tenders called

Tenders have been called to acquire a vehicle that can reach 54-metre high buildings (18 floors). Yet, it will be difficult to put off leaping flames on the upper floors because of the wind velocity. Water too cannot be pumped to such heights that would lead to loss of property and human life.

Having helipads on multi-storeyed buildings above 60 metres in height will be in addition to all the fire safety norms prescribed in the National Building Code (NBC). For instance, occupants on the upper floors of a high-rise cannot come down if fire breaks out in the 40th floor of a 60-storeyed building.

Only option

The only option is for them to go to the terrace from where they could be rescued with the help of a helicopter, explains Director Fire Services P. Venkateswar. Working in tandem with the Commissioner, Disaster Management and the Indian Air Force, he says the Fire Department could press helicopters into service within minutes of a fire breaking out in high-rises.

Ambitious plans

Plans have been drawn up to introduce British fire-fighting systems.

An in-built fire station is to be developed within any mega township with self-closing doors, fire-fighting lobbies, separate lifts and staircases, with trained personnel.

“We are waiting for the government’s permission to introduce the new system”, adds a senior official.

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