The Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services (AFES) is short by 60 per cent of fire staff, according to a senior Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Official.
Speaking about what difference this shortage can make, the official told DNA, that while the Shreeji Tower blaze was only one incident that occurred on Monday, had there been a parallel incident, the fire department would have struggled to tackle the same.
“We have fire stations but they don’t have fire officers. The department is extremely short staffed. Yet, they have been handling the situation. Soon, we will start the recruitment process,” said Vijay Nehra, municipal commissioner.
Rajesh Bhatt, additional fire officer, also said that if two different places were under fire on Monday, the team would not have been able to tackle both at the same time.
“The fire was massive. To reach to the basement, we had to knock down the wall. It takes more than 11 hours for the operation for us. We were 70 people deployed there on the spot,” said Bhatt. “If we had a parallel incident on Monday, then it would become difficult for us to tackle the fire.”
Recently, some drivers have been transferred from the AMTS.
“It is so unfortunate that the fire department has been neglecting this. Earlier, when the city’s area was 192 km, there were 867 staff members in the fire department. Now, when the city has been expanded to 464 square kilometers but the fire staff is not sufficed as per the limit,” said Badruddin Shaikh, former leader of the opposition, AMC.
“Even when there was 867 staff, 387 posts were vacant. Annually, the fire department is attending more than 1,200 fire calls. But what if such fire incident occurs at multiple places?” added Shaikh. He also said the firemen are working without job security, and their remuneration is also too little. “There is a vacancy for more than 550 posts which need to be filled urgently,” said Shaikh.
VACANCIES IN THE FIRE DEPT
- Divisional fire officer – 2
- Station fire officer – 16
- Sub officer – 21
- Pump operator – 112
- Fireman – 36
- Mechanic – 5
- Communication officer – 1
- Wireless officer – 22
3 POSSIBLE REASONS BEHIND THE SHREEJI TOWER FIRE (DNA)
- Gas line and electricity supply have been cut down for safety purposes. The residents are allowed to go inside to collect their valuables.
- Accommodation for residents: The chairman of the Shreeji Tower made stay arrangements at the Sun-n-Step club located in Memnagar area for some of the residents who had no alternative accommodation. Most residents had gone to their relatives or friends place
- Owner of the shop in hospital According to an employee of the tyre shop, the owner, Ashwin Mittal has been admitted to a private hospital as his health began deteriorating after the fire
Safety of Amdavadis is certainly not a priority for Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, as per a report by Ahmedabad Mirror in February this year.
Every fourth high-rise in this bustling ‘Smart City’ is without a fire NOC (no objection certificate), but the AMC seems least concerned.
The fire and estate departments of the corporation are busy passing the buck when it comes to issuing warnings. Worse, even the residents are either unaware or unconcerned about the lack of fire safety in their buildings.