There is some good news for the Department of Fire and Rescue Services hit by serious staff shortage in Ernakulam.
Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan has said that steps will be taken to fill all vacant posts except the supernumerary ones in the district.
“The posts will be filled by recruiting from the live lists of the Public Service Commission. But the government has no powers to fill supernumerary posts,” he said.
The Minister’s statement comes as a big relief to the department where 200 posts of firemen, the principal fire fighters on the ground, out of the total allocated posts of 324 spread over 13 fire stations have been remaining vacant for sometime now.
Due to staff shortage, the department is often able to deploy only two personnel instead of five in the event of an emergency, severely affecting their fire-fighting capacity.
Mr. Radhakrishnan also promised to look into the severe shortage of foam, the principal fire-fighting agent in the event of a disaster sparked by highly inflammable petroleum and oil products.
Shortage of materials
He said that the issue had come up at a meeting held to discuss the various suggestions to enhance the preparedness of the district to deal with chemical emergencies.
The force has just 500 litres of foam in all its 16 units in the Ernakulam division taken together. The department authorities are not even sure whether the limited stock with them is of any use now, considering its limited shelf life.
The Fire and Rescue Services authorities in the district have been writing to the State government in vein for replenishing the stock of foam for more than two years. This could prove suicidal for a district through which hundreds of tankers transporting thousands of litres of highly inflammable products pass through every day.
The lack of adequate fire tenders also affects the operations of the department in the district. Sixteen units in the district have just 18 tenders for use among them instead of 32, which is the norm. Besides, many of the tenders are well past their life. The shortage of tenders has created a practice of informal ‘leasing’ of tenders among units as the situation demands.
200 posts of firemen vacant in 13 fire stations Limited stock of foam available in Ernakulam district
200 posts of firemen vacant in
13 fire stations
Limited stock of foam available in Ernakulam district