In a move that will further strengthen the short-staffed fire brigade, around 300 firemen, who have been doing sentry duty or working as ambulance attendants, will be brought back to their core duty of fighting fire.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has recently taken a policy decision that all firemen posted on security duty or as an ambulance attendant will be discharged of these duties.
While clearing the proposal, municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar said that the job of firemen is highly skilled and hence posting them on such jobs will amount to wasting their abilities.
“Those who are currently on such jobs will be replaced by security guards and ward boys,” said a senior fire official on condition of anonymity because of lack of authorisation to talk to the media.
In a related development, the civic security officer has been asked to recruit 150 guards to replace the firemen on sentry duty and the civic health department to recruit 150 ambulance attendants as replacements.
“These recruitments have been approved and will be done in the next three months,” said Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner.
“It is a good move as we [the firemen] are a specialised team, and not meant to work as security guards. But, as the chief fire officer would post us there, we didn’t have a choice,” said a firefighter who has been posted as a security guard at the fire brigade headquarters in Byculla.