Chennai: BSNL's cable work severs fire department's emergency helpline number

Calls to ‘101’ did not get through as telecom workers were doing cable maintenance; issue came to light during a minor fire incident

Published: 17th May 2018 03:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th May 2018 08:27 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Fire Service control room number 101 did not work on Wednesday as the road in front of the Fire service building was dug by the BSNL workers for maintenance and in a mishap, when people concerned tried to call up the office, the line was found cut.

The fire help number 101 is registered under the BSNL services. The issue came into the spotlight after an electric box near the Habibullah Road board caught fire and spread rapidly. Commuters and shop-owners nearby called the emergency number 101, but as the ring went on, no one on the other side picked up the call.

“Around 2.30 pm, the small electric box next to the board caught fire and spread fire. Since it is an electric junction box, we did not use water to put off the fire. We tried the 101 number but nobody picked up the call as the ring went on,” said K Ganesh who works in a vegetable shop near the place.After the commuters tried for a long time, a few men on bike went to the fire station on Wallajah Road and alerted the fire officer. The fire tenders came to the spot and put off the fire around 3.15 pm, said the locals.

“There was phone cable maintenance at the Rukmani Lakshmipathy Road near the Rajarathinam stadium, which is close to the Fire and Rescue head office. The incident was a mishap done by the workers,” said a senior officer at the fire department.When Express contacted the 101, the phone rang but nobody picked up the call and this happened till the end of the day.

“We did not get any call since morning because of the issue and we are yet to know how many cases we missed at the city,” said Ruban in charge of the control room.When questioned about the fate of other districts, he said the issue is restricted only to Chennai and its suburban areas. “Since every district has its own control room, the call made from the place will go to the respective district only,” he added.Replying to the query if a connection through the satellite is possible to avoid such incidents  in the future, Ruban said the department is not provided with such a facility which is quite expensive.

The fire station officers in the city told Express that they were not able to contact any landline connection in the main office and they were using walkies to contact one another in case if there was alert in the city.
“The BSNL officers are on the field trying to rectify the issue and the problem will be solved soon, latest before 11 pm. The incident was totally unexpected and no such incident will happen in future,” said Meenakshi Vijayakumar, Deputy Director of Fire and Rescue Services.

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