For a city having a population of nearly 20 lakh, there are only 40 fire fighters against the 86 posts and 13 fire engines to deal with an exigency. Of the 40 fire fighters, 22 are above the age of 45 years.
At any given point of time, a number of fire-fighters, especially older ones, are on medical or casual leave from the head office of the fire wing of Municipal Corporation near Lakhsmi theater in the old city. In an exigency, the pressure is always on the younger lot of fire fighters as they are the ones who are put on duty first.
Vacancies are not being filled even as firemen are retiring. The fire tenders have not been upgraded for long. Water keep kleaking from some of the fire tenders as they are on way to douse the fire. Of the 13 fire engines, only 10 are in working condition. With the Diwali approaching, 15 drivers of the MC have been attached with the fire wing.
The fire wing also lacks necessary safety equipment such as ladders, masks, hoes and other gadgets which are required in an exigency.
Bhupinder Singh, who is the additional divisional fire officer, said, “For Diwali we have attached 15 drivers with the fire wing so that swift action could be taken in need. MC would be on guard round-the-clock from November 1 to 6,” said Singh.
He said that they had been upgrading the fire tenders from time to time, but admitted that there was need to procure more tenders keeping in mind the population and area of the city. There was need for at least 10 more fire tenders .
Sources said most of the fire tenders have lived their age as they were more than 10 years' old.
Secretary of the department Ashok Gupta recently had said that the fire wing of the civic body would be overhauled. “We have a plan to upgrade the fire wing to make it at par with country's best,” Gupta had said.