Shortage of staff in t fire department seems to have paralysed the services of the department in the district home to many industries prone to fire accidents.
With five fire tenders covering area of 70-km radius, officials said they conducted operations with fire tenders called in fire personnel from other districts.
Visiting two fire stations in the district, HT team found the staff to be grappling with the staff shortage, besides technical and departmental problems.
At the Mandi Gobindgarh fire station, 82 complaints were reported from January to June. Officials said that for most of these complaints, fire tenders were called in from other districts.
An official said that around 32 firemen were required for department whereas they had hired only 10 non-professional firemen through a contractor in Mandi Gobindgarh. This shortage affected operations, he added.
Although the various industries were inspected and notices were issued to bring down the number of accidents, he said the department faced difficulties in tackling major fire accidents as it took time to arrange fire tenders from the neighbouring districts.
Claiming that staff recruitment was in the pipeline, divisional fire officer of Mandi Gobindgarh Malwinder Singh said that they issued notices to buildings that had not installed fire-fighting equipment.
Singh said that they asked buildings to get no objection certificate (NOC) every year so yearly checks could be conducted while issuing the certificates.
Meanwhile, the Sirhind fire station had only two fire tenders and no firemen or drivers.
An official said that since 2005, a sub fire officer ran station. This year they got only five complaints while last year they managed 85 fire accidents in spite of staff shortage.
Admitting the staff-shortage, executive officer of Sirhind, SK Gulati, said that the recruitment process had already begun. Usually they hired volunteers to cover the accidents in the area, he added A sub fire officer and a fireman seriously injured, hospitalized.
Sources said that sub fire officer Lachman Dass and fireman Ankush Sharma were seriously injured when they were dousing fire at Avinash Industries in Khanna on June 11. Both were admitted to hospital since then.
Caption- Fire tenders parked at fire station at Sirhind.