Despite having “the best equipment” worth around `10 crore, the fire department that caters to the entire district, owing to the staff crunch, is reeling under immense pressure.
The situation is so poor that if two fire incidents happen in the city at the same time, chances are high that the department will need help from the neighbouring cities. Though the department claims of having sophisticated equipment, they are of no use owing to less manpower.
While the fire incident on wednesday at a shop in Phase 1 brought to the fore unpreparedness on part of the officials concerned, a visit to the department revealed it has just 12 fire officers to handle a total of 11 vehicles.
However, according to experts, around 50 officials are needed for the same. To add to the woes, the department has just one leading fireman.
Sharing their grief, the firemen said since the department catered to the entire district and has the lone ‘sky lift’, all the 12 firemen worked round-the-clock. “There is no shift system due to the staff crunch,” they rued, adding that there are a few drivers due to which, sub-fire officers had to lead the operations many times.
As far as the equipment are concerned, the department has a water bowser with 20,000 litre water capacity, five fire tenders, sky lift that alone costs around `7 crore, rescue tender, jeep, bolero and two motorcycles.
All equipment are worth over `10 crore. Adding further, they said total number of crew members required (per vehicle) for a single shift include a sub-fire officer, driver, leading fireman and four firemen.
By this assertion, the department has minimum requirement of 30 firemen. Commenting on the issue, MC commissioner Uma Shankar Gupta said, “We have the best equipment across the state. As far as staff shortage is concerned, we are planning to outsource the work and hire more firemen.”