The Sangrur fire department’s wait for replacement of its 1984-made fire tenders seems unending. It is more than one year and the fire station is yet to receive approval from the headquarters to buy new tenders. Not only this, even the post of fire station officer is lying vacant for the past one year.
The file, it is learnt, is gathering dust at the desk of Punjab local bodies director Priyank Bharti.
A visit to the fire station, on Thursday, revealed that besides the two ageing 1984-made fire tenders, the fire department has a 2013 model TATA 207 van, which is a quick response utility vehicle.
Sangrur fire brigade in-charge Amarnath Saini said, “The fire station is at a disadvantageous location as it is situated close to the FCI godowns on Upli road near Captain Karam Singh Nagar. Consequently, during kharif and rabi harvest seasons, the haphazard parking and the movement of large number of trucks obstruct the passage and hinders the movement of fire tenders in case of an emergency.”
It must be mentioned that despite acute shortage of staff, this fire station caters to the whole of district, except Malerkotla. At present there are 22 staff members against the sanctioned strength of 44. Each fire tender requires 22 employees, including 14 firemen, four drivers and four leading firemen. It was in 1979 that the last recruitment took place and no fresh new recruitment has been made thereafter.
Sub-fire officer Labh Singh said, “The department has outsourced its work by hiring 11 employees, including three drivers and eight firemen, who have not received their salaries for the last six months. Yet, they all are performing their duties. At least these employees should be paid in time so that we can retain them.”
Among the regular employees of the department, it is learnt, there are only three sub-fire officers, two leading firemen, one driver and three firemen.
Labh Singh said, “Even salaries of regular employees usually get delayed. We received our salary for May on June 8 and the department even failed to deposit our provident fund into our accounts.”
Meanwhile, Saini said despite these problems, the staff always performed their duties with efficiency. “Since April 1, the station has attended to 77 calls,” he added.