Inadequate Fire Brigade Deptt.

Firefighters face equipment dearth

* Half of the fire tenders lack communication systems


By Jamil Khan | KARACHI


A LARGE number of the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) Fire Brigade Department officials are yet to receive their proper uniform and relevant accessories, despite registering complaints for the past three years, causing them major inconveniences in performing their duties.

Besides the unavailability of uniforms, the fire fighters have also not received their quota of detergents for cleaning the fire tenders and, moreover, half of the vehicles are also devoid of wireless communication system.

According to sources in the fire brigade department, the city government has issued various tenders but, so far, not a single bid has been processed for acquiring uniforms and equipment for the staff. “Most of the officials have arranged the uniforms on their own, either from Lunda Bazaar or other weekly bazaars,” said one of the officials, pointing out various officials wearing trousers and shirts of different shades of blue going about their work in the Central Fire Brigade Station located behind the Civil Hospital.

Another official, who was harassed twice by the police during rescue operations due to the absence of proper uniform, angrily stated that arranging uniforms is not the job of the employees.

According to him, the CDGK fire department has a workforce of around 900 firefighters, deputed in 18 working fire stations throughout the city. Till around three years back, the firefighters used to receive three sets of uniforms every year, in which one was for the winters and two for summers, along with socks, shoes, belts, caps and jackets. However, in the current tenure of the city government, all such provisions have been completely stopped.

Officials of the different fire stations confirmed that they were also given a weekly quota of soap, dusters and other essential items to clean their vehicles on a daily basis. “Providing these items was not a major problem for the government but now it seems that no one really cares about us and are only interested in greasing their palms,” said an anonymous official.

Presently, while 25 fire tenders are in running condition, only 15 have functional wireless communication systems. “Sometimes, not having these wireless systems can cause major problems and results in not only wastage of fuel but also time, which, as we all know, is of the essence during rescue operations,” stated another official.

A senior official of the department requesting anonymity told Daily Times that the prevalent financial crisis is the reason for the delay in acquirement of uniforms and other accessories. It is also mentioned that the fire brigade officials are also eligible for reimbursements, ranging from Rs 170 to Rs 370, if they arrange the uniforms themselves, however, for the past six years, these reimbursements too have been stopped. Chief Fire Officer Ehtishamuddin, when contacted for comments, was not available.

– Published in Daily Times | Dec 31, 2008

~ by jamilkhan on December 31, 2008.

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