Fire dept crumbling over neglect


The city’s fire brigade is crumbling due to neglect. Firefighters haven’t been paid, fire stations are dysfunctional, equipment and facilities are outdated – the list goes on and on.
In October, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail had said the federal government was purchasing 50 new fire tenders for the metropolis which would be given to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation by January 2021.
The announcement had come after he met the victims of the Hijrat Colony incident, in which four people were burnt to death after a fire broke out.
Sindh Information and Local Government Minister Nasir Hussain Shah paid a visit to the city’s central fire station last Sunday where he was briefed over the dilapidated state of the department. He was told that only 11 of the city’s 25 fire stations are functional. This means Pakistan’s biggest city only has 14 working fire stations.
There are a meagre five snorkels available for use in firefighting operations at high-rise buildings. But only two actually work.
The LG minister said the government “soon” plans to clear the arrears of fire risk allowance for three months. The minister hoped it would “compensate and motivate them [firefighters] to show more courage and zeal in serving the people of the city”.
He lauded the firefighters for performing their duties to the best of their abilities despite a challenging situation. “Still, they are showing the spirit that is required to safeguard human lives”. He spoke about the staff shortage faced by the fire brigade and announced he had given the “necessary” instructions to improve the situation at its earliest.
Shah directed the relevant officials to contact the companies that had earlier provided fire tenders and snorkels for maintenance in the best possible manner.The fire brigade department, he said, is “a sensitive emergency civic service of the city” so vehicles available to them should remain operational. He directed the officials concerned to extract subsoil water through boring at fire stations of the areas that frequently witnessed fire incidents and advised the services of experts to modernize the fire brigade system be hired.
Earlier, Karachi Administrator and Commissioner Iftikhar Ali Shallwani had said the local government minister had given assurance to increase the budget, if there was any such requirement, for the procurement of fuel for fire tenders.
He had said the LG department’s secretary would be informed of the vacant posts in the fire department.
Karachi Metropolitan Commissioner Syed Salauddin said around 10 fire stations were located in areas where frequent fire incidents occurred and that they would carry out boring there to arrange additional subsoil water for firefighting.
Phone lines at the fire stations should remain in working condition, he had said.

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