States

Supriya Sule appeals to Uddhav for fire prevention and control policy

In the wake of recent hospital fires in Bhandup and Vasai-Virar that resulted in the deaths of several COVID-19 patients, Baramati MP and senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Supriya Sule has written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray urging him to formulate a fire prevention and control policy.

Importantly, Ms. Sule has put forth an innovative plan to overhaul the structure of the Fire Safety Department while making it more responsible.

Stating that despite the Assembly having enacted the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act in 2006 that set provisions and established institutions to control fires, Ms. Sule said that zilla parishads and gram panchayats in the rural hinterland lacked fire brigades as opposed to their urban municipal counterparts.

“There is also no standardisation in the implementation of fire audit protocols across the State,” she said, pointing to understaffing and poor training in local fire departments.

Attributing the poor upkeep in equipment to small budgets and competing priorities of local urban bodies, the NCP leader urged Mr. Thackeray to empower the director of the Fire Department to raise a State Fire Control Force.

She has suggested that the director of Fire Safety be upgraded to the rank and scale of a departmental commissioner and be made a cadre post of the Indian Administrative Service at a junior administrative grade while the directorate be overhauled and given responsibilities of implementing fire safety rules, empanelling agencies to conduct fire audits and ensuring centralised filing of fire audit reports of buildings and industries.

The Maharashtra Fire Control Force could be headed by an officer of the IPS cadre of the rank and scale of Director General of Police by adding more responsibility to the position of DG (Civil Defence) and all fire brigades in the State be brought under his command, the MP said.

Ms. Sule has offered detailed suggestions for the proposed constitution of a uniformed force consisting of an additional principal chief conservator of forest to tackle forest fires and an Inspector General of Police to take care of industrial fires among other officers for different duties.

“A state cadre of commandants and assistant commandants could be created from existing municipal, forest and police cadres and over time through direct recruitment from the Maharashtra Public Service Commission,” Ms. Sule said.

Notably, all personnel currently providing fire services in various departments, local bodies, metropolitan or industrial development authorities can all become part of this new force.

“Police patils and Gram Suraksha Dal volunteers could be given basic training and simple firefighting equipment to enable them to respond and also to contain minor fires,” Ms. Sule suggested as a means to improve training at the local level.

She said that the expenses of raising this new force would be low as the proposed Maharashtra Fire Control Force would be taking over the manpower and existing capital assets of fire brigades in the State.

“The proposed policy on prevention and control of fires would generate several new employments for the youth while spawning new enterprises in fire audit services and manufacturing of fire safety equipment,” Ms. Sule said.


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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 1:56:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/supriya-sule-appeals-to-uddhav-for-fire-prevention-and-control-policy/article34418644.ece

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