Hyderabad alone requires more than 100 fire stations, but has to manage with limited resources.

news Fire Safety Sunday, June 04, 2017 - 13:12

Is Telangana well-prepared to tackle the catastrophic risks of major fires? As the recent 38-hour blaze in Chennai’s commercial hub of Panagal Park puts the spotlight on fire safety, the Telugu state’s woefully inadequate infrastructure is beginning to ring alarm bells.

With just 102 fire stations in the state, Telangana is severely short of fire stations to respond to emergencies. 

More than 100 fire accidents, including minor fire accidents are reported daily across Telangana, according to V Papaiah, the Regional Fire Officer (RFO). 

However, the state has had to manage with a severely limited number of fire stations. 

There were 96 fire stations in the state, and six more stations have been added after the bifurcation. But this number is far short of the recommended norms, with even many district headquarters still lacking fire stations. 

“After the bifurcation, the Telangana government added six new stations, at Gadwal, Cherlapally, Shamirpet, Dubbaka, Yadadri and Pedda Shankarampet. However, 17 constituencies still do not have a single station in the state,” Papaiah told TNM.

The State Disaster Response and Fire Services has brought this to the notice of the state government and is said to have identified lands to build additional fire stations. 

“We have written to the state government about the issue, we are waiting for the orders. For instance, Bhupalapally is now a district – previously it was a part of Warangal district. The headquarters of Bhupalapally district does not have a single fire station,” he added. 

The situation in Hyderabad is no different. With a population of more than 60 lakh, the city has just 15 fire stations in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits. 

According to the Standing Fire Advisory Council, there should be one fire station for every 50,000 members of the population, or in every 10 sq km area in urban spaces and every 50 sq km area in rural areas. 

Presently, the GHMC is spread over 625 sq km, covering mandals of Hyderabad and parts of Rangareddy. 

Although fire teams remain constantly prepared, Papaiah explained, their ability to control blazes in time was affected by how quickly fire tenders could reach the spot. This depends on how far away the nearest station is located, and how much traffic fire tenders must battle their way through to reach the spot.

It’s not just the limited number of stations – even in existing stations, the current staff strength is insufficient, including in the Hyderabad region.

There is a shortage of over 400 constables in fire stations across the state, said the fire officer. Due to the shortage of personnel, the officers are often forced to multitask. 

“We have been managing with home guards for now. This year, 410 people have been recruited for the constable post, but they are yet to join,” said Papaiah. 

Most fire stations are also facing an acute shortage of drivers. 

“To overcome the shortage of drivers in fire stations, the Additional Director General has recruited nearly 65 temporary drivers from the Road Transport Corporation (RTC), who can drive the heavy vehicles,” said the RFO. 

There is, as yet, no clarity about whether more drivers will be recruited this year. However, the RFO said that fire stations had thus far managed the situation with temporary recruitments.

“There are no serious issues due to the shortage, as we are managing with the home guards and RTC drivers. The new people will join the stations once their training is over by July,” he said. 

 

 

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