Sheetal Salve, 28, and Swati Satpute, 27, were hitherto ordinary women. But on Monday, they found themselves a place in the city’s history.
Sheetal and Swati are the first women to be inducted into the Mumbai fire brigade.
In the 150-year-old history of the Mumbai fire brigade, this is the first time that women have been recruited. Sheetal is a resident of Dombivli and Swati stays in Dharavi. Both of
them are graduates in commerce.
In a walk-in interview held at the Bhandup Complex premise on Monday for the recruitment of assistant station officers (ASO), six women appeared for an interview round.
During the selection round, the women had to cross a series of obstacles, run 800 metres, climb 50 steps, do pushups and long jumps.
“These two women were outstanding. They showed maximum strength compared to other four who were rejected,” said a senior firemen who was present during the selection round. The recruitment will continue for three more days.
Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said that these women would be provided extensive training before sending them on fire duty. “To begin with, they can
start off by manning control rooms at fire stations. They can be assigned to monitor mobile control vans. After their training is complete, they can be assigned full- fledged roles in rescue operations,” said a fire official.
Satpute said that she had fought with her husband to appear for the recruitment exams, as he did not approve of her working.
“In order to prove myself, I wrote the exams. My children are extremely happy and can’t stop boasting about me in front of our neighbours,” she said on the phone.
AshruKhole Satpute, Swati’s father-in-law, told Hindustan Times that their daughter-in-law had done them proud.
“She would always run up and down in the house. All that practice seems to have helped her during the recruitment drive,” he said. He added that with Swati bagging the job, his family would be able to provide quality education to his two grandsons.
In 2010, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had announced a proposal to induct women into the fire brigade.
Following the announcement, 30% reservations were made for women. Presently, out of 119 vacant positions, 35 will be reserved for women.
Fire brigades in states such as Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have been recruiting women fire fighters since 2003.