The municipal corporation has provided extra staff for the fire department, which is already facing a severe manpower crunch, to tackle any untoward incident on Diwali night. All local fire stations have been told to remain alert as every year several cases of fire incidents are reported due to bursting of crackers on the festival.
The staff reinforcements will include some drivers employed by the MC to run fire engines and other emergency vehicles as well as tubewell operators to ensure adequate supply of water for fire tenders at fire scenes.
Despite being fully aware the fire department, besides suffering from an acute shortage of personnel, is hamstrung by the lack of advanced firefighting equipment, the state government has failed to pay any serious attention to firefighting services in the city.
A fire brigade official said: “Almost every year I’m on firefighting duty on Diwali night. I’ve seen the principal cause of most fire incidents during the festival is bursting crackers without taking the necessary precautions. People shouldn’t keep any flammable fuel, paper, cardboards, dry wood and other combustible materials that can catch fire easily on rooftops and in the open when they are setting off firecrackers,” he said.
“Also, is no secret that the fire department lacks the necessary firefighting equipment including ladders, smoke masks, gloves, helmets, flashlights, fire boots and protective clothing but we nevertheless perform our duty”, the fire brigade official added. Though the fire department has about 85 positions of firemen it current has only 40 firefighters. Besides, several positions of drivers for fire engines and other vehicles have remained vacant for years.
Meanwhile, assistant divisional fire officer Bhupinder Singh claimed: “We’re fully prepared for Diwali night. The MC has asked tubewell operators to be on duty while we’ll also get at least 10 vehicle drivers to help us in emergencies.” “We appeal to residents to observe a ‘green’ Diwali by eschewing firecrackers as it will help prevent accidental fires. The largest number of fire incidents reported every year occur on the night of the festival,” Singh added.