The 20-feet vertical jump at the recruitment test being conducted by the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) at Borivli has left at least 18 aspirants with bone fractures and other injuries.
Doctors at Shatabdi Hospital of Kandivli, where the injured candidates were treated, said they had been brought in for emergency medical aid. A senior medical officer talking about number of injuries said the 18 were brought to the hospital on Tuesday alone. “We are doing X-rays and treating the the ones with sprains and minor injuries in the out patient ward. Three were admitted with serious fractures but they wanted to go back to their hometown and tooka voluntary discharge against medical advice,” he said.
The recruitment process for the 774 vacancies for the posts of class II officers included a walk-in interview at Borivli Fire Station. Since August 19, when the selection process started, about 1,800 candidates, including 300 women, have appeared for the tests. The selection process will continue till September 2 and the rigorous physical evaluation includes a 800-meter sprint and a vertical jump from the second floor of a building (20 feet). For the safety of candidates, a mattress has been placed below the jump spot, but candidates complained that this was not enough to prevent injuries.
“My brother just wanted to become a firefighter and serve people and now he is bedridden and is not even able to sit or stand,” said the brother of 25-year-old Vijay Thorat who sustained a severe spine fracture.
Thorat was taken to Sangamner, his hometown, by his family, since they couldn’t afford to stay in Mumbai for long. “After two days, we brought him home. His MRI report will come tomorrow after which we will shift him to Sassoon Hospital in Pune,” said his brother Satish. Vijay has completed his BCom and was looking for a job with the fire brigade, defence services or the Maharashtra police.
Dhananjay Junnarkar, Mumbai Congress spokesperson and secretary, who has been following up on the issue, pointed out that the vertical jump was an old practice, followed in colonial era. “The jump should not be a test of physical endurance. Desperate candidates from different districts are sleeping on pavements at night and appearing for such inhuman tests the next day. State government needs to intervene before it destroys someone’s life,” said Junnarkar. He added that they were pushing the state government to do away with the vertical jump test.
PS Rahangdale, chief fire officer of MFB, denied the allegations of inadequate safety measures for the jump and said only a handful had sustained injuries during the process. “Only 10 to 12 people sustained injuries and it took place because the candidates didn’t follow the guidelines properly. The practice is being followed by ages to check if applicants have vertigo (fear of heights) because that shouldn’t happen that they sustain severe injuries on field while attending to a disaster. A lot of women candidates have also completed the jump and if there was a problem with the mattress then more than 50% would’ve suffered injuries,” said Rahangdale.
He also added that those who couldn’t complete the jump and have reported injuries are checked on other parameters and if they get a medical certificate saying that they are fit for the next round, then too, they are considered for the job.