HC allows Delhi Fire Service to employ retired staff till vacant posts are filled
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday allowed the Delhi Fire Services to engage retired personnel as an interim measure till process for filling up of vacancies is completed. The court was hearing a bunch of matters with respect to the decongestion of the Karol Bagh area and fire safety audit of the buildings there in wake of the deadly fire at the Arpit Palace hotel in February, in which 17 people were killed.
As per the Delhi Fire Service website, the force responds to approximately 22,000 fire/rescue calls each year. Delhi Fire Service has 59 fire stations, including headquarters and training centre.
A bench of justice G S Sistani and justice AJ Bhambhani allowed the application of the fire department after it informed the court that there are 24 sanctioned posts of Assistant Divisional officers (ADO), of which 17 have been filled. It said that currently officers of the rank of Assistant Divisional officers and above are working on a continuous 72-hour shift followed by a 24-hour off. The DFS said that at least 12 ADOs are available at any given time to do departmental works and to deal with emergencies.
On Wednesday, the fire department told the court that apart from performing the statutory functions, they are also required to deal with cases where stipulated timelines are specified such as ease of doing business i.e clearance of online building plans from fire safety, RTI cases (30 days), joint inspections of cinema halls/multiplexes and other building among other tasks.
It also said that the officials also have to address complaints, inquiries, court cases, Public Grievance Management System (PGMS) matters, VIP duties, training programmes, etc. It sought that as an interim measure, the department be allowed in interregnum and purely as an interim measure to engage retired officers of the DFS for teams for compilation of the teams. Following this, the court allowed the department for the arrangements and posted the matter in December for further hearing.
Director, Delhi Fire Services, Atul Garg could not be reached for a comment.
Detailing about the fire safety audit that was conducted on the orders of the court after hotel Arpit Palace fire, the department said a committee has been constituted for overseeing the fire safety audit of eight identified roads in Karol Bagh. It said that the committee, including the chief fire officer, joint commissioner of police among others have started their work and till date 235 buildings on the Saraswati Marg and Bank street has already been inspected.
In addition, the DFS has constituted three teams, each consisting of an ADO who has been actively engaged in the task of conducting the fire safety audit since November 11.