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150 NDRF firefighters deployed in Uttarakhand, Andhra and Assam

By, New Delhi
Apr 28, 2024 02:30 AM IST

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deployed at least 150 trained forest firefighters from three battalions across Uttarakhand and other states.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deployed at least 150 trained forest firefighters from three battalions across Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, and Assam this summer. The move comes after the force added forest fire to its list of natural disasters last year and decided to have dedicated teams for such incidents.

A view of the fire caught in the forest in Nainital on Saturday. (ANI)
A view of the fire caught in the forest in Nainital on Saturday. (ANI)

On Friday night, within a week of being deployed, the first batch of firefighters from the NDRF’s 15th battalion was sent to Nainital, where they are working with other agencies to control a raging forest fire threatening to spread to parts of the High Court Colony and an Air Force Station in the town area, according to NDRF’s DIG (operations) Mohsen Shahidi.

The 150 rescuers underwent a month-long training at Dehradun’s Forest Research Institute (FRI) by experts last year and completed two weeks of field training in various jungles of Uttarakhand. In February, the NDRF also sent a proposal to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to send teams to Russia for training, as the country reports one of the highest numbers of forest fire incidents every year, sources aware of the matter said.

“The three teams were posted last week because of the rising mercury levels. Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, and Assam were identified due to the high number of forest fires reported during summer every year,” a senior NDRF officer said. The officer added that a separate control room is set up within the battalion headquarters in each state during the summer season, which remains in constant touch with the district magistrate’s office.

Read more: Nainital forest fire: CM holds review meet, forest officers' leaves cancelled

In Nainital, the NDRF control room personnel and the district magistrate’s office are coordinating with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) officials to check the wind direction and take appropriate measures on the ground. While Air Force choppers have been pressed into operation to douse the fire, NDRF rescuers are surveying the area to ensure the fire is controlled and does not spread to residential areas. The force has also brought large blowers to change the direction of the fire.

An NDRF rescuer at the spot, who asked not to be named, said, “There are multiple fires in the different forest ranges within Nainital, but the situation is under control. It will take time because the dry pine trees act as fuel and exacerbate the fire. Our work here is to ensure that it does not reach the residential colonies.”

Read more: Nainital forest fire: CM holds review meet, forest officers' leaves cancelled

The rescuers are trained to build fire stop lines, the conventional way of controlling forest fires, by chopping bushes and trees and making paths within the forest to stop the fire from spreading.

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