With only 27 firemen working against the sanctioned strength of 86 and eight drivers against 19 posts, the Ludhiana fire department is struggling with acute staff shortage, besides equipment.
Local bodies minister Anil Joshi had on Friday announced recruitment for 127 posts of firemen, leading firemen and drivers for the fire stations of Bathinda, Faridkot, Rampura Phul, Jalandhar, Khanna, Dera Bassi, SAS Nagar, Moga, Dasua and Gidderbaha. But there is no sigh of relief for the largest city of Punjab — Ludhiana, which is continuously being ignored by the government.
Currently, majority of employees of the Ludhiana fire department are working up to 12 hours daily instead of eight hours due to staff shortage. Even the firemen and leading firemen have not been provided safety kits which include dress and advanced equipment that can help and protect them during a fire-fighting operation.
According to information collected from the fire department, there are 14 fire tenders at five fire stations in the city, but only eight drivers to run these vehicles. Many a time tenders could not reach in time at a fire spot due to the unavailability of drivers.
According to sources, on an average two fire incidents area reported in the city in a day.
Out of 19 posts of drivers, 11 are lying vacant. Also, one post of leading fireman is vacant out of total 18.
An employee of the fire department said, “The government should pay attention towards how we work in tough conditions that too without any safety gear. There is a provision of safety kit, but we have not been provided with it. Also, we are not being paid for working overtime.”
“Dense smoke causes inconvenience during fire-fighting operations as we lack masks and glasses.
Some firemen have also been deployed to at-tend to the calls. There is also need for hydraulic lifts that can be used for high buildings,” he added.
Parminder Mehta, spokesperson for Congress councillors, said, “It has been seen many times that how the staff works in tough conditions and they are not being given required equipment. It has happened many times that drivers are not available during emergency. The government should fill vacant posts of firemen and drivers at the earliest. The state government is collecting a large amount of tax from Ludhiana but it is still being neglected.”
New Tata 207 vehicle
The state government has allotted a small range Tata 207 vehicle for the Ludhiana fire department. According to officials, this vehicle can move on narrow streets and carry a container containing more than 500 litres of water.
Assistant fire divisional officer Bhupinder Singh said, “The government has announced to provide a Tata 207 vehicle, but there is no information on recruitment of staff in Ludhiana.”
Sanctioned Vacant posts
Firemen 86 59
Drivers 19 11
Leading 19 1
The Ludhiana fire department lacks fire tools; safety dress, including mask and gloves; shoes; advanced moving lifts and lighting systems.