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Lack of Water in Hydrants Affected Efforts to Put Out Fire in São Paulo Building

05/09/2018 - 13h23

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ROGÉRIO PAGNAN
FROM SÃO PAULO

The efforts to put out a fire in a building that ended up collapsing last week was affected by the lack of water in hydrants in São Paulo's downtown area. This imposed on firefighters the need to adopt a kind of rationing technique in the midst of the incident, thus reducing the capacity of the hoses that were directed at the fire.

The strategy was adopted by firefighters in order to make sure the hoses did not dry up completely as the fire department's water trucks took turns providing them with additional supplies of water.

A Fire Department truck carrying a 20,000 liter water tank can provide an operation with water for around 11 minutes, meaning that there has to be a plan for refilling the water tanks during large fires.

Corpo de Bombeiros de São Paulo
The building collapsed after 90 minutes
The building collapsed after 90 minutes

The Fire Department's strategy to save up on water has become commonplace in São Paulo due to how few fire hydrants there are scattered throughout the city, not to mention the rationing system adopted by water and waste management company Sabesp, in which the pressure in the pipes is reduced every day both in the early hours and late at night.

The state-owned company has adopted the strategy in order to avoid unnecessary leaks in the pipes during periods of low water consumption.

"There was a lack of water. We're sorry, but that's the reality," said Major Henguel Ricardo Pereira, who participated in the Fire Department's efforts to put out the fire on May 1st.

According to firefighters who were interviewed, the debate surrounding the network of fire hydrants in the city needs to be put back on the table, particularly in the aftermath of a tragedy that has claimed the lives of at least two people, while another six are still missing.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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