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In 3 months, Srinagar lost 2.5 billion rupees property in 146 fire incidents
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In 3 months, Srinagar lost 2.5 billion rupees property in 146 fire incidents

Post by on Wednesday, April 6, 2022

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The drastic rise in fire incidents in Srinagar district has put firefighters on tenterhooks round the clock. The losses in the recent fire incident in Nigeen Lake could have been easily minimised, had infrastructure of the firefighting centre at Kohna Khan Dalgate improved. Rising Kashmir’s city correspondent Irfan A Mir speaks to Deputy Director, Fire & Emergency Department Bashir Ahmad Shah, who spoke on fire safety measures, requirements and people’s approach.


RK: Srinagar city has reported devastated fire incidents in recent days. How do you see it?

BAS: We can’t relate fire incident to some specific season. We are in summers now and people have minimised the usage of electronic gadgets,so it is surprising to see rising fire mishaps. There could be regular incidents in a week and sometimes there may not be even a single incident in a month. There is no hard and fast reason in such incidents. However, people should take preventive measures and there should be no compromise or negligence in it.


RK: Any specific reason for occurrence of such mishaps?

BAS: Yes. Though we switched on to concrete structures but still the interior of our dwellings, industrial units, offices, complexes etc are full of combustible materials which makes our structures vulnerable as fire point of view. The wooden interior not only catches fire easily but spreads it fast as well.


RK: What is the way forward?

BAS: In Delhi authorities do not allow permission for constructing houses, malls, offices etc unless people will obtain NOC from concerned departments after proper inspection. This should have been implemented here as well but no. We recommend suggestions to concerned agencies but they avoid our recommendations. Like schools, houseboats, commercial buildings we recommend suggestions regarding fire safety measures but the other end took us lightly and ignore our suggestions. There should be a mechanism to grant permission to only those houses, commercial buildings, houseboat etc who adopt fire safety measures during construction. We recommend suggestions and explain each and everything under National Building Board (NBB).


RK: How many fire incidents have been reported in city since January 2022?

BAS: During the first three months of 2022, 146 fire incidents have been reported in city. In January, 43 fire incidents happened in which 21 houses, 9 shops, 1 shopping complex, 2 ordinary sheds, 1 vehicle, 6 electric transformers gutted. In February, 49 incidents reported in which 14 houses, 2 buildings, 2 shops, 3 shopping complexes, 6 electric transformers damaged while in March 54 incidents reported in which 58 houses, 1 building, 2 shops, 6 shopping complexes, 2 vehicles, 4 electric transformers and 18 other structures gutted.


RK: You said there is no adherence of fire safety measures. Whom will you blame?

BAS: The fault lies with the concerned agencies who issue permissions without inspecting the safety measures. A commercial establishment should not be allowed to operate unless it will obtain NOC from all departments. All concerned agency should make a mechanism to allow operations of such establishments, hotels, houseboats, residential houses etc only when they have NOC obtained from Fire & Emergency Department as well.


RK: Recently Bone & Joint Hospital, Barzulla damaged in a devastated fire. How do you see it?

BAS: The fire occurred in the hospital could have controlled at a right time however due to no safety measures were in place, it spread fast and engulfed the entire structure. However, there are many hospitals in city where the system is in place and many are working on it. If a hospital put such mechanism in place, it costs only 40 to 50 lac rupees.


RK: Amid such a huge communication gap, did you ever hold formal deliberations with concerned department?

BAS: There have been no formal deliberations so far. But we are acting in our personal capacity and intimating the other end to ensure fire safety measures.


RK: Shehr-e-Khas areas are much congested. There is no ample space to ensure fire safety measures now. What is the solution there?

BAS: People are constructing modified three-story houses, spending millions of rupees on it. What is wrong if they spend few thousands more on installation of fire extinguishers? This will provide them security as well. In unplanned colonies people should at least take utmost care to give no chance to fire.


RK: Don’t you think there should be more fire tendering stations in city?

BAS: Yes. There should be fire tendering stations after every 2 km’s.


RK: How many fire tendering stations are in Srinagar?

BAS: We have 23 fire tendering station in Srinagar besides Rive Fire Station which was erstwhile established in Nehru Park and later on moved to Kohna Khan Dalgate. However, from last five years no new unit has been established in the city due to some administrative issues. Further we have 5 more fire posts which are established near religious sites like Makhdoom Saheb shrine etc as it is impossible to reach there during eventuality. We have stored water and potable pumps there with 5 to 6 employees.


RK: Recently several houseboats gutted in a fire incident in Nigeen Lake. There was no fire extinguishing arrangement in nearby. Why?

BAS: Earlier there was one River Fire Station established at Nehru Park but in year 2008 it was displaced to Kohna Khan on a makeshift arrangement. We are operating there in an ordinary shed now with 8 to 10 people. Had this facility been upgraded in past, it would have benefited much adjoining areas. The Department has sent recommendations to Government for establishment of two more firefighting centers in Nigeen Lake and Jhelum. Both will have at least boats equipped with fire extinguisher equipment’s.


RK: Why the Department has failed to establish further fire tendering centre to deal with the emergencies?

BAS: We have identified 92 locations across J&K which have already been submitted to Government for establishment of fire stations. We have done our job and now it needs sanctions from the Government. These locations have been surveyed at National Level Standards under guidance of Ministry of Home Affairs.


RK: What is the strength of available manpower with the department and what is the demand?

BAS: We have 3000 personnel across J&K with 250 fire tendering vehicles. However, it needs immediate advancement to 5000 personnel with 300 fire fighting vehicles. We have 114 fire tendering stations in Kashmir Valley. Few among them are yet to be regularized with the Government as these are simply makeshift arrangements. We have high tech vehicles which include Hydraulic Platform Vehicles, Turn Table Ladder etc. These high-tech vehicles are available at State level however it should be made available at district level to deal with the situation.


RK: Your message to people?

BAS: Fire incidents are reported daily basis. It is a regular phenomenon. Apart from natural causes, majorly incidents happen due to our negligence. People should inspect the wiring in their houses. They must ensure their inspection from expert electricians. Avoid electric wiring beneath the wooden paneling. Use conduit wiring to avoid tragedies. People must ensure fire safety measures in their domain. Install fire extinguisher in homes and review these equipments from time to time to know whether they are working in an order. 

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