Mumbai News

Changing City: How firefighting is adapting to Mumbai’s urban challenges – The Indian Express

With a proliferation of high rises across Mumbai city, a look at how the fire fighting system in the region is adapting to the changing fire safety needs of the city.

Articulate Water Tower

What is it: A fire-fighting water tower with arms that can stretch out horizontally and vertically, and help douse fire in highrises as well as slums, especially in congested areas, where access to shorter structures is hampered by tall surrounding structures.

Height: 55 metres

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Horizontal reach: 50 metres

Cost: Rs 13.38 crore

Significance: Though procured in 2021, the tower was used for the very first time this year by the Mumbai fire brigade in dousing the fire at a film set in Chitrakoot Grounds, Andheri, in July that killed one labourer working at the site. The Chitrakoot Grounds fire was a challenging task due to its inaccessibility to the film set. The sides through where accessibility was possible were blocked by the existing cement concrete structures. As the articulate water tower has a horizontal reach and can stretch over existing structures, it was used to douse the fire from the nearby road.


– Five boom ladders, and the arms are remote controlled

– High capacity water dispensing system attached to the last boom, along with a camera for maneuvering during firefighting

– The boom can be used to break open glass windows, and enter buildings to fight fires


The vehicle’s five foldable arms can stretch over existing tall buildings, to access adjoining smaller buildings. It can also park on a wider road, and access fire incidents that have been reported on smaller roads at a distance. The response time is also cut down, as the precious time during fire fighting, that would be lost in finding and gaining access or vantage to the fire in a congested location is saved due to this equipment.


The Mumbai Fire Brigade has the most advanced fleet of fire-fighting vehicles.

According to a senior officer with the Mumbai Fire Brigade, “Whatever technology gets developed in the world, our Fire Brigade procures it. This is because the city has unique urban challenges while fighting fires. High-rise buildings are one of the challenges, large-scale slums, high population density and narrow roads are the others – this composition of buildings is going to change and mutate further. More old chawls or shorter old buildings will get nestled in a network of high-rise buildings as development happens. The Articulate Water Tower has proved useful for the Fire Brigade in such scenarios,” the officer said.

(According to the Mumbai fire Brigade, there are 40 lakh structures in Mumbai, including slums. As per the fire brigade’s estimates in 2017, the population of Mumbai is about 12.87 million (the Census of 2011 pegs it at 12.5 million), of which 7 million live in slums.)