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?Overburdened firemen? in the dock

TWO MAJOR fire incidents in the State, one at Meerut, in which hundreds of innocent people were charred to death and another in Banda district in which a marriage pandal was gutted causing huge property loss raised a question on the efficiency of fire services in the State.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2006 00:55 IST

TWO MAJOR fire incidents in the State, one at Meerut, in which hundreds of innocent people were charred to death and another in Banda district in which a marriage pandal was gutted causing huge property loss raised a question on the efficiency of fire services in the State.

However, it seems that inadequate fire services in the State are directly related to the facility being provided to firemen. Fire services are struggling hard to get working autonomy and also lacking proper technical supervision in absence of posting of chief fire officers at various districts.

There are about a dozen posts of CFOs throughout the State. Out of which, approximately half of them were lying vacant, claimed fire services officials. Besides, the services are also facing acute shortage of manpower and supporting equipment.

Most of the fire officers posted at fire stations were unable to make up their mind about the priorities, as they were being governed by the district police officials. Therefore, technical necessities needed from time to time by the local fire stations remain unfulfilled. Besides, fire services officials were also performing law and order and VIP duties. They have to perform the additional work like inspection of various establishments to check the fire safety measures, creating awareness among the people about fire safety measures.

According to sources, fire services throughout the State in general and Kanpur in particular were facing shortage of fire boots, which is issued to each fireman. The life span of one pair of boot was estimated to be three years. Besides, breathing operatus are also not issued to fire stations in sufficient quantity, the source said.

The fuel of fire vehicles is allotted according to their commitment in rescue work and not for any other additional work, which they have to perform time to time on the instruction of their local bosses, the sources said.

All over the State there are about 150 fire stations, however, virtually all have to depend for repair of special and normal vehicles from local market, which more than often do not give satisfactory result, sources added.

The other existing lacunae, which has an adverse affect on the performance of fire services include, no emergency fund allotted with fire services to meet their emergency requirement like providing financial support to the staff, which sustain injury during any rescue operations. Nominal cash rewards are paid to them as compared to their tough job.

The delay in promotions of fire officers, due to few post of CFO in the State was also a cause of concern among the fire services officials. Therefore, fire station officers (FSOs) having more than 18 years of service are still waiting for their promotions at several places.

Talking to Hindustan Times, DIG fire services Bhanu Pratap Singh said that efforts were on to improve the fire services in the State. He said that fire services have been included under disaster management. The fire training school has been upgraded and at present it was providing training at national level. When asked about vacant post of deputy commandant at Unnao, he said efforts were on to fulfill it.

Singh said that a proposal has been sent to government for more fire stations in the State, however, it was still pending with the government.

He said that the State government has allotted Rs 10 lakh for welfare of fire services in the State. A committee has submitted its reports and implementation of the report has started to meet the emergency requirement for the welfare of firemen in the State, he added.

He, however, accepted that slow promotions were affecting the morale of fire officials, but proposal to improve the same has also been sent to government.

First Published: Apr 17, 2006 00:55 IST