Fire force to get crisis-ready

Seeks ₹62.72 crore for the purchase of various gears and vehicles

Drawing lessons from fighting an unprecedented natural calamity during the recent floods, the State Fire and Rescue Services has sought an initial assistance of ₹62.72 crore from the State government for fortifying it by purchasing fire-fighting equipment and vehicles.

Among the list of items drawn up by the department are 50 all-terrain vehicles, 375 scuba sets with diving suits, 30 fibre boat with outboard engines, six mobilising vehicles for special rescue force, 100 hydraulic tool sets, six vehicles for mobilising equipment, 60 demolishing hammers, 80 rubber dinghies with outboard engines, and 250 chainsaws.

The request forms part of an extensive report submitted to the government describing the rescue works carried out by it before and after the calamity and the challenges faced during its course. The report makes a set of recommendations for further strengthening the department and ensuring greater efficiency in its operations. T

he department bats for setting up more fire and rescue stations in high ranges for better access during emergencies after many parts of Wayanad district turned inaccessible during the recent floods and landslides. Wayanad was literally cut off after all four passes, which serve as its entry points from the neighbouring districts, were hit by landslips. As such, three more fire and rescue stations in addition to the existing three should be opened in the most vulnerable and inaccessible areas of Thondernadu, Vythiri and Pulppalli in Wayanad.

Though rubber dinghies and scuba sets emerged the most effective tools for fire fighters during the rescue operations, their numbers and vehicles to carry them to disaster sites were very few prompting the department to recommend their purchase in large numbers.

Conversion of the scuba training centre at Fort Kochi into a full-fledged Advances Water Rescue Centre for imparting training to the personnel and community rescue volunteers is another recommendation.

This was particularly significant considering that the State reported on an average 1,600 deaths in a year due to drowning. The proposed centre can be operated by creating limited posts, including that of a regional fire officer, a station officer, a technical station officer, two assistant station officers and four leading firemen and firemen each. The department also proposes a Special Task Force of 100 well-trained members at the headquarters-level under the Director (Technical) of the department for deployment during emergencies. Strengthening of district-level offices and addressing the shortage of ministerial staff has also been sought.

The department observed that deployment of executive staff for administrative works led to shortage of hands at disaster sites.

Strengthening the civil defence system under the Community Rescue Volunteer Service, launched last year, would help create an effective disaster fighting force by roping in people from all walks of life while entailing little financial commitments. The post of district fire officer should be elevated at least to a rank equivalent to that of DySP, as the increased authority would help them better coordinate the rescue operations during emergencies. Currently, his rank is equivalent to that of a motor vehicle inspector or a police circle inspector.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 6:07:19 PM |

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