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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Fire dept fights staff crunch to ensure safe Diwali for all

Sanjeev Bhalla , Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, October 31, 2013
First Published: 23:48 IST(31/10/2013) | Last Updated: 23:55 IST(31/10/2013)

Despite reeling under staff crunch and Diwali just two days away, the fire department of the local municipal corporation has pulled its socks up to tackle emergencies.

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A total of 45 staff members, against sanctioned 90, would be on duty on Diwali night. The department is operating with 50% staff shortage, especially in the firemen category, and the existing staff members would be on duty at a stretch, an official said.

“In the past six years, no new appointments have been made after the existing staff retired. It works in case of officers, as they have to perform supervisory roles, but firemen have to perform on ground. So their posts should not be kept vacant,” he said.

All equipment available with the fire brigade have been tested, temporary filling points have been identified and a hotline for uninterrupted water supply has been set up at Sudan Chowk. Besides this, fire tenders will be deployed at Babrik Chowk, outside Burlton Park, Rajinder Nagar, Basti area and head office on the GT Road.

“Last year on Diwali night, 26 cases of fire were reported and all were averted from becoming a tragedy. This year too, we are cautious and geared up. We have checked all equipment, including ladders, masks, hoes and portable fire extinguishers,” said assistant divisional fire officer Kashmir Singh.

He said: “If need be, we will send our vehicles to tackle fire in nearby cities as well.”
“We have eight fire tenders and two motorcycles and all are in proper working condition. Fuel and maintenance check has been done,” he said.

“Motorcycles come handy when we need to reach congested areas. This time, no cracker store is in narrow markets so there will be no major threat. But still we have cautioned our staff,” he said.
He said: “As per the practice, a circular has been issued to all staff members of the department, requesting them not to avail of any kind of leave on Diwali.”

Rajinder Sharma, senior fire officer, said: “Ruing staff shortage will not serve any purpose, so we are once again ready to serve society during the festival season. I hardly remember a year when our staff members celebrated Diwali with their families at home. We always report for duty on the day.”

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