Despite the fact that some major fire breakouts showcased the inefficacy of the district fire services on several occasions, the civic body paid no heed towards upgrading the already deplorable fire infrastructure in years besides raking in huge amounts as fire cess through property regularisation.
Falling under the jurisdiction of municipal corporation Jalandhar (MCJ), the fire brigade has been facing acute staff and equipment shortage since long.
To cater the needs of one of the biggest districts of the state (commercial activities and area wise), Jalandhar fire brigade has only 11 fire tenders. Also, most of the tenders have become outdated as per the modern requirements.
As per information, the last purchase by the civic body was of a mini truck in 2011. The MC had purchased other fire tenders more than 10 years back including one in 2006.
Although the Punjab Fire Prevention and Safety Act authorises fire officers to check whether modern fire safety compliance is being met or not, it is rarely implemented in letter and spirit due to the absence of clearly defined penalties.
The extent of apathy is such that the buildings of fire stations are also lying in a dilapidated condition.
In the absence of any separate ministry or directorate, local fire service has always remained dependent on the civic body for funds. The funds meant for the fire brigade are often diverted for other purposes, said sources.
Also, the outreach of the fire services is mismanaged. Rules mandate that a fire rescue team must reach the accident site in 15 minutes in rural area and in three minutes in an urban area.
But on the contrary, filled tenders took than an hour to reach the spot in case of fire breakouts at Nakodar, Shahkot and Phillaur tehsils as no fire tender has been stationed there. Only Kartarpur sub-tehsil has a fire tender stationed.
When contacted, sub-fire officer Rajinder Sharma said that the Union government has allocated state wide funds for almost 96 fire tenders. A state-level purchase committee has already been set up for the same. The first installment of approximately `45 crore has been sanctioned under the scheme, he said.
The city will be allotted fire tenders equipped with turntable hydraulic ladders. Separate rescue vans fitted with latest fire fighting appliances and communication facilities will also be given to selected metros. Jalandhar is expected to get five ultramodern fire tenders, he added.