28 April 2010

A University of Queensland academic is working with the Delhi Fire Service in India as part of research on mapping urban fires.

Dr Jonathan Corcoran of UQ's School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management recently visited the Delhi Fire Service (DFS) to establish a new, on-going collaboration between the UQ and the DFS.

“I want to ground truth our research by field checking the common factors associated with different types of fire- outdoor, residential, suspicious and hoax fires etc. – between us here in Australia and in Delhi,” Dr Corcoran said.

“Our first meeting with the DFS on their home turf was a success.

"We are looking forward to receiving their fire incident data so that we can identify the common factors associated with urban fires using our own case study of SE Queensland.

"If we discover similarities between the two studies it means there is potential to develop strategies to better allocate finite resources to minimise costs, risk and most importantly, loss of life for people in Delhi.”

The Delhi Fire Service has been operating since 1942. It began with just four fire stations, 186 staff and fourteen appliances, including fire trucks and ladders.

In 2010 it has grown to 51 fire stations and 3299 operational staff and responds to well over 15,000 call outs (2008/9 16452) with 2225 injuries and 380 deaths.

"With a command area of 1483 square kilometres and a population well over 10.83 million, the service is living by its motto: We Serve to Save.

“The sheer scale at which the DFS is operating is intense," Dr Corcoran said.

"It is quite different because of the differences in the socio-economic structure and transportation systems between our two cities. DFS is protecting a massive community used to open fire, cooking outdoors and high density living with limited access.

“With the population of South-East Queensland likely to grow from 2.37 million to around 3.84 million in 2026, the pressure on our public services will intensify. People will be living in closer proximity to one another so we want to take the guess work out of how this population surge will impact on our fire services."

Delhi’s firemen and women serve the community despite limited resources. The sources of water supply for fire fighting are fire hydrants and underground water static tanks. The water supply in the hydrants is often restricted and water is available for just a few hours in the morning and evening.

“There is much we can learn from the DFS and this collaboration means that we can share our knowledge, learn from one another and improve the quality of services in both our communities.”

Media: Dr Jonathan Corcoran (+61 7 3365 6517 or email: jj.corcoran@uq.edu.au)