Fire brigade faces staff Shortage.HT/Photo
A visit to the fire brigade office in Mansa is enough to have a glimpse of how the department is struggling for its survival. The officials claim that during the last 10 years, the fire brigade office has been shifted to five locations and is still looking for a permanent office. Speaking to HT, one of the employees said: "There are two fire brigade offices in the district; one in Mansa and the other in Sardulgarh division. Both have been ignored by the administration in various respects."
The Mansa office has five firemen and two drivers, one of these employees is retiring this month. The fire brigade is struggling with three vehicles as two of them are 1982 and 1984 models, which are no longer in use.
"We have only one vehicle, which is used in case of a fire. The problem arises when there is a scheduled visit of any VIP in the district. The vehicle has to rush there and if, in the meanwhile, we are asked to arrive at any spot, then it becomes very demanding," said Raj Kumar, sub fire officer, who has been serving the department for the last 31 years in the district. The district office is heavily short of staff.
The senior officer revealed that they don't have manpower even to attend the calls which, in turn, delays our arrival on the spot of the fire. "One of our employees, who attends the calls, is hard of hearing and often fails to note down the proper location where we have to reach. Most of the employees are overburdened with tasks. In nutshell, I can say that the department lacks specialists."
April is the harvesting season in the state and there have always been increasing reports of fire incidents during this period. "Harvesting of wheat is carried out with the help of machines. Even a spark can spread a fire. We have to rush to the spot and while we are attending the one, we receive several other calls about fore incidents." The fire officer explained how risky it turns out to be if they reach the spot a bit late.
Member of the district cell of disaster management Manjeet Kaur said that very soon the emergency services in the district will be revamped. "We are planning to integrate all the emergency services and one can avail the service through a single window. For fire service, we are trying to introduce digital mapping which will help in locating the actual spot which catches fire," she said.
We are running short of staff and we hope the problem is addressed soon. We are one of the most important departments of the district administration.
Raj Kumar, sub fire officer
Every business and commercial building is at a high risk if fire services are not up to the mark. We hope the administration takes stock of the situation and ensures that fire services are improved.
Tarsem Chand, a local photo studio owner
The condition of the fire service in the district has been brought to my attention. I will try my level best to ensure that the services are up to the mark.
Bhupinder Singh, deputy commissioner