Ludhiana fire department fights staff crunch to ensure safe Diwali - Hindustan Times
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Ludhiana fire department fights staff crunch to ensure safe Diwali

By, Ludhiana
Oct 16, 2022 12:37 AM IST

Ludhiana fire department is reeling under acute staff crunch with 121 of the total 147 sanctioned posts in the department lying vacant

Grappling with acute staff shortage, the fire brigade in the industrial hub of Punjab has pulled up socks to tackle the incidents of blaze that are likely to be reported on the Diwali night.

Grappling with acute staff shortage, the fire brigade in the industrial hub of Punjab has pulled up socks to tackle the incidents of blaze that are likely to be reported on the Diwali night. (HT file photo)
Grappling with acute staff shortage, the fire brigade in the industrial hub of Punjab has pulled up socks to tackle the incidents of blaze that are likely to be reported on the Diwali night. (HT file photo)

As per officials, there are now 27 big fire tenders and five quick response vehicles (small fire tenders) available with the brigade after 10 new firefighting vehicles were inducted under the Smart City Mission recently.

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All these vehicles will be deployed on the Diwali night while the staff will remain on alert.

Orders have been issued to arrange generator sets at tubewells so that the firefighters do not face any problem while refilling the tenders in case power cuts are witnessed.

As per the firefighters, over 30 incidents are reported on an average in Ludhiana on Diwali night every year.

But, the department is reeling under acute staff crunch with 121 of the total 147 sanctioned posts in the department lying vacant.

Of the 86 posts of firemen, 81 have not been filled yet. Only one permanent driver is working with the department against the sanctioned posts of 19. Thirteen posts of sub-fire officers are also vacant.

Though the department has outsourced 50 firemen and 17 drivers through Punjab Ex-Servicemen Corporation (PESCO) to make up for the staff shortage, it is not sufficient to cater to the requirement of the city.

One of the firefighters, on the condition of anonymity, said the department has provided new vehicles, but no additional staff has been recruited even as the fire brigade is already reeling under its shortage.

“There should be three working shifts of eight hours each in the fire brigade, but the work is being done in two shifts only (12 hours each) due to the staff shortage. This puts additional burden on the staff. The department should fill the vacancies at the earliest and more posts should be sanctioned considering the requirement of the city,” he added.

MC secretary and incharge of fire brigade wing Neeraj Jain said the entire staff of fire brigade will remain on alert on the Diwali night.

“Besides 93 staffers of the fire brigade, including senior officials, 15 drivers of the MC will also be deputed on Diwali. The civic body is also in talks with the state department to fill the vacancies,” he added.

Avoid keeping goods/waste on roofs: Firefighters

Firefighters have appealed to the residents to avoid keeping goods or waste on the roof of their houses or factories as most of the time, incidents of blaze are reported after such items catch fire due to spark of crackers.

PESCO turns down demand to deploy additional firemen for two months

Outsource company PESCO has turned down the demand of the civic body to provide 45 firemen and drivers for two months near Diwali. As per MC officials, the outsource company stated that the employees can be deployed for a minimum period of six months.

MC officials also said that 15 drivers of MC will now be deputed with the fire brigade on Diwali night to reduce the workload.

Fire dept to set up temporary stations on Diwali night

Apart from the five permanent fire stations in the city -- the headquarters near railway station, Haibowal, Gill Road, Sundar Nagar and Focal Point -- the department will also station its fire tenders at different locations across the city on a temporary basis.

This is being done to reduce the reaction time after a fire incident is reported. The firefighting vehicles will be stationed at Samrala Chowk, Aarti Chowk, and Bharat Nagar Chowk among other areas.

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