Kochi

Civil defence volunteers prove their worth

A civil defence volunteer helping a rescue official at Brahmapuram on Friday.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The firefighting at the dumping yard of the Kochi Corporation at Brahmapuram since Friday has driven home the significance of the Kerala State Civil Defence volunteers in assisting the Fire and Rescue Services Department in dealing with emergencies.

As many as 53 civil defence volunteers drawn from the limits of 13 out of the 18 fire stations in the district actively assisted firefighters at Brahmapuram where a major blaze broke out at the dumping yard on Friday afternoon. Having turned up around 2 p.m., they were active till around 3 a.m. on Saturday.

Ernakulam accounts for 3,036 civil defence volunteers spread over 18 fire stations, out of whom 260 have undergone the fire station and district-level training, while 180 had completed the State-level training as well and were part of the passing-out parade held in the city on February 16. The volunteers are imparted three levels of training on six subjects related to disaster management, rescue, and administration of first aid.

“The Fire and Rescue Services Department is engaged in a sanitisation process separating active from the inactive members while encouraging more volunteers to join the ranks. Each fire station is supposed to have a minimum of 50 civil defence volunteers with another 50 in reserve,” said Binu Mitran, Ernakulam divisional warden, Civil Defence.

A systematic communication process is in place to mobilise volunteers as soon as an emergency is reported. The alert is communicated to the post warden, deputy post warden, and five group captains under whom civil defence within each fire station limits is organised and they in turn mobilise the available volunteers mainly through social media and inform the Fire Force authorities.

“Civil defence volunteers play a vital role in enhancing manpower available for fighting disasters and rescue missions, making it possible to rotate the force without exhaustion in trying conditions,” said K.K. Shiju, Regional Fire Officer. Around 150 civil defence volunteers, including 23 from the district, were active in rescue operations at Pettimudi near Munnar that was struck by a devastating landslide in 2019.

Amal Paulose, a 26-year-old civil defence volunteer enlisted under the Piravom fire station, was at his home when the alert about the fire at Brahmapuram reached him on Friday afternoon. “Around 15 of us rushed to the fire station to go to the site by the station vehicle. However, by then the team had left and then we reached Brahmapuram by our motorcycles,” he said. Having joined as a volunteer only last year, Mr. Paulose has already participated in multiple operations, including a major fire at a super market at Piravom soon after completing his training.

Anyone aged between 18 and 60 years can join as a civil defence volunteer through an online link offered by the fire and rescue services department. They are provided uniforms and identity cards, facilitating their easy access to disaster and accident sites.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 6:42:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/civil-defence-volunteers-prove-their-worth/article34009797.ece

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