Fire Engines in Mumbai

This morning, on my way to work, I saw a screaming fire engine trying to find its way through the rush hour traffic.
It brought my heart to my mouth…what if this was the fire fighting team on its way to fighting a fire at my home ? to save my beloved ones ?
The traffic didnt budge an inch…no one on the road even attempted to make way for the fire engine. No one as much as looked at the fire engine. A couple of truck drivers did glance around to find out what the noise was all about but that’s about it.
Worse, even the traffic constable didn’t bother to help the fire engine find its way…Luckily, the team found a by-lane that they took…I am hoping this was some kind of shortcut to the place the team was supposed to reach … and I sincerely doubt if the by-lanes themselves are any less congested than the highway. (calling the Western Express Highway an express highway or even a highway seems to be the biggest and cruelest joke to me !!!)
Several questions come to mind…what if this was an ambulance trying to reach the patient or carrying a critically ill patient to medical help ? Would the response from the traffic been any different ?
How are fire stations located ? do they cover a small, easily-reachable area considering the usual congestion on our roads ? are they strategically located near high-risk buildings (such as factories, restaurants, schools etc) ? has any thinking been done about these ?

The worst sight for me today was the atmosphere inside the fire engine — all the fire fighters had a calm, serene look on their faces. You could say that they need to be calm (and anyway, there is nothing they can do about the traffic, can they ?)…but if my house were on fire, I would be seriously disturbed by those looks…it was almost as if they didnt mind stuck in traffic…(I have seen cars honking more than the fire engine did today…I have seen rickshaw drivers try going across traffic more than the fire engine did today…I feel its the attitude that counts…)..

I am worried…deeply worried….


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