Faridkot district with a population of 6.18 lakh has nothing much to write home about as far as fire safety is concerned.
With the wheat season at its peak, fires are the order of the day and fire safety equipment is in great demand.
Precariously hanging electricity wires and the transformers installed in the fields pose a danger of a fire leading to burning of wheat. Farmers are in a hurry to harvest the crop to ward off the fear of fire.
The Kotkapura fire station, which works from the premises of the municipal committee with three fire tenders, used to be the mainstay of the district. But of late its services have seen a decline.
The Kotkapura civic body had said that in the absence of revenue resources, it was unable to run the fire station. The committee had also demanded that the fire station be shifted to the district headquarters. But so far, it has not been possible.
Sources said, "The Kotkapura fire station is not up to the mark in case of an emergency. It has only three fire tenders; one of them is 29 years old and another 27 years old. Only one of them is in a relatively better shape," sources claimed.
The shortage of staff is another problem. "According to rules, a fire tender requires 22 staff members. But the station has only eight employees on its rolls," claimed a source in the fire station.
The fire station also lacks the required material to control fire. "It is not in a position to handle an emergency. Every day, we get calls from three to four places, it being the wheat season, and it is risky not having the required machinery," said an employee of the fire station.
The building housing the fire station is also in a bad shape. Tall grass has grown on the roof of the building. The water from one of the fire tenders was leaking on to the floor.
Earlier, only the Kotkapura fire station used to cater to the entire district, including Faridkot and Jaitu towns. But of late, the Faridkot municipal committee has got a fire tender, but so far it has got no staff of its own. "We are going to get the staff soon," said Amar Kumar Beenu, president, municipal committee, Faridkot.
Rajinder Singh, a resident of Kotkapura, said, "Fire can break out at any time and anywhere; from a mere spark it can lead to large-scale devastation. So the fire infrastructure should be upgraded and more technical staff employed."
Faridkot deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat said, "I am seized of the matter and have written to the government to provide the required staff and other infrastructure. We hope to get it soon."