This Diwali, if there happens to be a fire incident around you, pray that there is no fire elsewhere, as the Sangrur fire department is in complete disarray with outdated fire vehicles, acute shortage of staff and no modern equipment.
Sangrur had two fire-brigade situations and the situation is equally grim at the two stations.
At the Sangrur fire station, of the 26 sanctioned posts, as many as 17 are vacant, paralysing the functioning of the government. Only two firemen have been assigned the duty, with 12 posts remaining unfilled for the past many years.
The department has only two fire tenders and that too of the 1984 make, while it needs at least six vehicles for smooth functioning and that too in normal days. The two available tenders are also in a very bad condition with complaints of leakage in water tanks, choked engines and other technical snarls.
Recently, the district administration did provide the fire station with two fire controlling motorcycles, one of which was later issued to the Malerkotla fire station.
"Despite several presentations to higher authorities, the authorities concerned have not heeded to our demands. We are short of critical fire fighting equipment, which puts our fire-fighting staff in danger while on a rescue operation. The government has neither provided any monetary assistance nor has it carried out recruitment for more than years now, said an official.
In Malerkotla, only one fire tender has been provided to deal with fire incidents in the periphery with two other firemen. Besides two drivers, only two head firemen are on the rolls of the fire department.
Fire fighters at the station have not even been provided with basic fire-safety equipment like safety suits, boot and a fire extinguisher. The state government has also failed to cover fire fighters under any life insurance policy, demoralising their spirits.
Fire officer Karam Singh said that they were managing with provided staff. "We have made all arrangements to cope with fire break outs this festive season. In case of an emergency, assistance from fire stations from Sangrur and Barnala districts will be taken."