Fire Services dept needs an ?emergency? shot in the arm | india | Hindustan Times
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Fire Services dept needs an ?emergency? shot in the arm

THE AFFAIRS of the Uttar Pradesh Fire Services department are all jumbled up. It is nobody?s baby -- controlled and governed by the police department but still not a part of it. And because of this technical ?norm?, the department has not been included in the ongoing modernisation programme of the police department, for which the Central Government has been providing crores of rupees.

india Updated: Apr 14, 2006 01:47 IST

THE AFFAIRS of the Uttar Pradesh Fire Services department are all jumbled up. It is nobody’s baby -- controlled and governed by the police department but still not a part of it.

And because of this technical ‘norm’, the department has not been included in the ongoing modernisation programme of the police department, for which the Central Government has been providing crores of rupees.  However recently, and after a lot of efforts, the Fire Services managed to get some money to replace their old and ‘khatara’ vehicles.

The headquarters of the Fire Services, situated in the Indira Bhawan, has an army of officers for ‘administrative’ works while the actual powers rest with the DGP, despite the fact that the department is not treated as part of the police department. An officer of the DG rank heads the Fire Services with an IG, a DIG, a joint director (DIG), a deputy director and a commandant (both SP).

While consent of the DGP is a must for almost every decision, including transfers, 149 fire stations in districts and towns work directly under their respective district administrations and get their funds straight from the PHQs but the so-called headquarters have no say in it, in any manner.  The skeletal staff of a dozen chief fire officers (CFOs), posted at divisional headquarters, have the impossible job of keeping a watch on high-rise buildings, fire preventive measures and other fire-related issues in all the 70 districts of the state. It is a mockery that whatever little powers the CFOs used to enjoy had been withdrawn from them under the new UP Fire Prevention and Fire Safety Act-2005. The powers to suo moto visit/inspect an under-construction building, multi-story complexes and pandals etc. to check fire safety measures have also been snatched away from the firemen as they can now do so only if any district administration asks them to do so and submit a report.

It was because of this reason that the ADM in Meerut did not bother to consult the CFO before granting permission to the exhibition, which was reduced to ashes killing dozens of people “as absolutely no fire prevention measures were taken in the pandals”. Earlier, a No Objection Certificate (NOC) was needed from the fire officer before or during construction of any high-rise building but even this power has been transferred to development authorities/housing board and other similar bodies under the new act.

The Fire Services department neither has adequate funds nor staff to deal with numerous high-rise buildings and increasing fire incidents. Most of the fire stations and their equipment are crumbling and are not fit to meet emergencies while most of their vehicles are old and outdated.

Almost all the old water resources, established during the British rule, including hydrants, the major source of water in case of a fire accident, are either dry or defunct and so far no initiative has been taken to develop new sources of water.