Crystal tower fire: Female firefighter helps save 13 lives

Till now, people always perceived that women cannot perform well in high-risk situations, but this firefighter has helped break that notion by bravely saving 13 lives, in the fire which engulfed Crystal tower, a residential building in Parel

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On Wednesday, August 22, a fire which broke out at on the 12th floor of a posh high-rise residential building in Dadar, killed four people and injured 21. Nearly 35 people were rescued from the 17-storey Crystal Tower building near Hindmata Cinema.

During the rescue operations, a female firefighter valiantly shone through and helped save 13 lives. The general images that comes to mind when one speaks about the Mumbai Fire Brigade, is firemen in their uniforms dousing fires and rescuing people. But Sunita proved this wrong by managing to rescue the victims without being overpowered by the raging flames.

Sunita Baban Patil is a resident of Masjid Bunder, Mumbai and had joined the Mumbai Fire Brigade on April 09, 2012. She is recruited at the Byculla Fire Station.

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While speaking to My Medical Mantra about the blaze in Crystal Tower, Parel, Sunita said, “When we were informed about the fire in the morning we were told that it was a level two fire. But upon reaching the site, we felt that the fire had crossed that level of severity. We could hear the screams of people, the fire which began on the 12th floor had rapidly spread to the 17 floor. In my first attempt, I helped rescue two pregnant woman, two children and a senior citizen. On my second attempt, I managed to rescue eight more people.”

Recalling the tragic event, she added, “I was in contact with my teammates with the help of a mike. I told them to start the water pumps. We did our best, but the 12th floor of the building was completely gutted. People were screaming out to us, but we could not save them.

The firefighters of Mumbai are always prepared to tackle whatever comes their way. Their alertness to danger and sense of duty has helped save several lives. As women have progressed in many fields, in the modern era, women in the army, police and fire brigade are as capable as their male counterparts.

At times, they have more problems and issues to face, when compared to men. Sunita further said, “I have to balance the responsibilities of both my work and my home. But I am mentally and physically prepared for anything that I will have to encounter on my job. We don’t have second thoughts while entering into any situation which might have dangerous consequences on our life. It is our duty to put the lives of others, before our own life.  We can maintain our own security but we have to make sure that we save as many lives as possible, as it is our prime responsibility. But in many cases it is not possible to get inside us due to the raging fire is huge. So, the pain of not being able to save lives remains with us.”

Physical and mental preparations are important for this. There was a notion that only men were capable of working in difficult situations. Women are as stronger as men and can shoulder these responsibilities and rise to the challenge.

This is the fourth blaze in Mumbai since June. On June 01, a fire broke out at Scindia House in south Mumbai. On June 09, a part of Patel Chambers in south Mumbai’s Fort area collapsed after a fire. And on June 13, a fire engulfed the top three floors of the 32-storey Beaumonde Towers in Prabhadevi in Dadar, a short distance away from Crystal Tower. No casualties were reported from any of these incidents.

But the worst fire in recent times broke out in a restaurant in the Kamala Mills area of Lower Parel shortly after midnight on December 29 last year. The fire swiftly spread to other buildings, killing 14 people.