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Peoples’ cooperation makes fire-fighting easier: Deputy Dir F&E deptt
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Peoples’ cooperation makes fire-fighting easier: Deputy Dir F&E deptt

‘New recruitment will help ease burden of understaffed department’

Post by on Monday, July 12, 2021

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Fire & Emergency Services has the latest machinery at its disposal to fight the eventualities but lack of staff is making the job difficult. People also have to be more cooperative in case any incident happens and allow the fire fighters to do their job without disturbance. Inculcating better Civic sense is imperative to help fight the eventualities. Deputy Director, Fire & Emergency Services (Kashmir) Bashir Ahmad Shah spoke in detail to Rising Kashmir’s correspondent AatifQayoom. Here are the excerpts.
It seems fire incidents have increased in City areas. Would you agree?
There are certain reasons behind that, we should know. At present fire incidents across Kashmir have declined. In 2020, no doubt we witnessed a slight surge due to dry weather but in reality fire incidents are decreasing each passing year. In Srinagar most of the fire incidents occurred due to electric short circuits and leakage of LPG gas cylinders. If we see in winters, fire incidents were reported mainly due to storage of firewood, LPG cylinders, live charcoal etc.
How is the Fire & Emergency Department dealing with the situation in the city?
It takes hardly 45-seconds for men and machinery to get ready and if the incident has happened in the city or within the radius of 15-kilometers, it takes us only 10-minutes to reach the spot subject to the traffic congestion.
What kind of facilities are available with the department that are used in fire-fighting?
We have fire tenders with different tank capacities, we have also multipurpose fire tenders, in addition, these multipurpose fire tenders are having water and foam (compound), these form bubbles and are being used where the fire has broken out in liquids like petrol depot, besides we are having several other types of machinery like mini Water tankers, and QRT, we have another machine which can rescue any person who is stuck in a multi-storied building, besides this the department has other machines which can get water from the direct water resources during fire, as the fire tenders can use more than 7000 water litres in 4-6 minutes. We have also, powders that are being used for electric fires.
How many fire incidents were reported in Kashmir in the last five years?
The Kashmir valley has reported 2373 fire incidents in the last year and 1841 fire incidents in 2019, and 2799 fire incidents in 2018, while 2977 fire incidents were reported in the year 2017 and 3548 fire incidents in the year 2019. There is no doubt that most of the fire incidents are taking place in Srinagar due to congestion as fire services are facing problems to reach the exact destinations.
Congested pockets often play a key role in fire spread. How can we evade human and property loss there?
Decongestion can surely help in decreasing the fire incidents in the valley, but it takes time and unless and until people won’t cooperate these things can’t help, recently there was a fire incident near-CD Hospital during which the fire services vehicle was unable to reach the exact location as the people had parked their vehicles on the roadside, and later we installed the pipeline far away from the spot and till we reached the spot it was too late.
How many fire incidents and injuries have been reported in the city so far this year?
This year 218 fire incidents were reported in the city till July 2, in which two fire and emergency men were injured at WatalKadal blaze and 121 fire incidents were reported in the first three months this year, while as in April 31 fire incidents happened, in May and June reports the incidents were 32.
How difficult is it for you to reach a far off area in the city outskirts in case of a call?
It takes time to reach the spot as compared to the nearer areas in the city, as I already told you that it hardly takes us 45 seconds to get ready, however, I admit due to traffic jams and bad roads it takes time to reach the spot. Although we have sufficient machinery, we lack human resources which also hinders the delivery of our obligations at times. As per the rules there should be around 26 firemen engaged with a single fire tender but we are hardly having 3 to 6 persons available.
 Do you think there is a need for up-gradation in the machinery?
 With the passage of time, everything needs to be up-graded. If we talk about the present machinery we have enough and updated machinery and we have better fire and emergency services than some developed countries and whenever we see anything new which can help us to ease the work we get it and in that case we are getting every kind of support from the government.
 Does the F&E department have staff dearth?
Yes, the department has a staff dearth but the recent recruitment drive of 700 persons has provided a sigh of relief to the department. At present, they are under training but when they will join duties the department will get some relief. Besides filling these posts we have a shortage of senior staff; we have dearth of supervisory staff and shortage of 157 non-gazette posts; the department has also sanctioned 45 station house posts among them 2 are in place, overall we have staff dearth.
Do you arrange awareness programs among masses?
We are regularly organizing the awareness programs in schools and colleges, and those who want to get the basic training are coming and we are giving them basic pieces of training on how they will help the firemen and douse the flames.
What should people do if fire erupts at any place?
Most of the time people panic and waste a lot of time before calling the fire service; instead of getting panicked people should call the fire and emergency service and if meanwhile they should try to prevent fire from spreading. People should always keep fire extinguishers in their houses to protect themselves and those who can’t afford this should keep two buckets of water at their place which can help them to control the fire at the initial stage. 
What is your message to people? 
My message to people is to cooperate with the fire fighters during eventualities. Many times people create ruckus and disturb the fire fighters; if they will allow our men to work without disturbance it will ease the work and will also take less time to control the situation. In many cases it has been seen that people in the frenzy snatch water hoses from the servicemen and start splashing their own houses that are yet to catch the fire. One more request is that people should avoid parking their vehicles on the roadside during night hours as that also becomes a problem for the fire service to reach the spot of the incident.

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