Mumbai Fire Brigade: Documentation of Calamities
Duration: 00:20:24; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 28.069; Saturation: 0.001; Lightness: 0.421; Volume: 0.345; Cuts per Minute: 12.888
Summary: These are videos of the sites in the aftermaths of fires, bomb blasts and building collapses.
The images are disturbing as they are visitations at the sites of death, of lives, body parts and place reduced to thing and wound. They are also spectacular as images of a city with its dynamics and flows and lives interrupted, disrupted, emptied. It is difficult to describe these images without resorting to the phrases that repeat in the rhetoric of newspaper headlines of tragedy- ruin, collapse, fire and smoke.
Disaster flicks and television reports capture every detail that adds to drama, discarded slippers, everyday lives interrupted, these images shot by the fire department with the aim to document only sometimes slip into the these tropes, most often, steering close to the investigative aspects, the details that on analysis will yield the truth of the causes, become evidence.
They go slowly recording the burst cylinder, the mangled taxi torn by the car bomb, the rescue teams and techniques.
They are still seductively and horrifically spectacular as images of the city in ruin, reduced to rubble, up in flames and seen through smoke in silhouette, as crows circle overhead.
The first video .is a video of the aftermath of a bomb blast, on 25th August 2003 at Zaveri Bazaar. This is a crowded inner city area very close to the Mumbadevi temple. Police, onlookers and firemen swarm the site of a bomb blast. You see a mangled taxi, crumpled facades of buildings and a street littered with debris. A politician and senior officials enter the site and the press and onlookers form a knot around them. The video ends with an eyewitness account of the explosion.
The second clip is of the retrieval of a corpse/body out of a ruin of a building that has collapsed into a pile of rubble. The video is eerily beautiful with huge mountain of rubble and crows circling overhead, and the firemen’s ladders silhouetted against the smoke.
The third clip is shot over two days, the site of a fire in a building and the next day, the burnt ruins after the fire.
The first video is a public demonstration in Ghatkopar.
" we invite you friends for live demonstration, Fire Fighting: Rescue and Fire Prevention by Mumbai Fire Brigade on Saturday 15thg April 2000
4 p.m. to 6 p.m. : Commentary and Film show at Odeon Apartment, V.B. lane, Ghatkopar, Mumbai-77"
A fire truck rolls into under an apartment building. Fake fire/ orange smoke from a flare pours out of a window. A fire ladder is lowered to lean against it. Two firemen carry two men down the ladder, people looking out their balconies and up from the street applauding.
The crooked arm of a Mac truck arching over the street and onlookers holds firemen, two little girls and a man, up to the roof of a building. The camera zooms in onto a girl pointing up from the street. The arm descends gently lowering them to the street. A view of the tops of the buildings, and buildings in the distance while the hose pours water over a building.
search and rescue
At the dias, a man makes a small speech about the firemen who lost their lives in the past year and a two minutes silence is held in their memory. Thereafter there are various short clips of people getting felicitated and speeches abruptly cut.
call of duty
The second video is a part of celebration/ felicitation which is the site for the demonstration. Shot from the roof of a building from which descends a fire ladder. Two firemen rush up the ladder, the first has the hose attached, as the second descends almost immediately with a "rescued" dummy, the firehose is rolled up and the entire operation is wound up in less than 50 seconds. The video ends with shots of the gathered firemen below, spectators of the ceremony and shots of a fireman in his uniform with shining buttons and lovely helmet.
search and rescue
The third video is a parade of all the various squads' forces and departments that make up the range of security batallions that are on emergency duty in the city.
The colour coded plumes hats helmets flags and machines march down to the beat of marching drums.
Officers salute, march down the parade ground in symmetrical formation arms and feet moving as one.
The first are girls in white nurses' uniforms.
The second, the fire department with the blue uniforms and helmets, followed by the police department in red plumed berets and in khaki.
saare jahan se accha
A band dressed in alternating white and blue, plays' Saare Jahaan se Accha' following them.
Army commandoes, riding pillion on motorcycles holding guns are followed by the motorcycle police,
The fire trucks salute with beeping sirens and the ambulances with flashing red lights as the parade ends.
saare jahan se achha