Monday, October 3, 2022

Lack of safety equipment puts firefighters at risk

Staff Reporter DIMAPUR, JAN 18 (NPN) | Publish Date: 1/18/2022 12:50:57 PM IST

Despite often putting their lives in the line of duty, firefighters of the Nagaland Fire Service, seem to be getting a raw deal with regard to inadequate safety gears and other equipments.

This was the message which this Reporter understood in an interview with the O.C. Fire & Emergency Services department Dimapur C. Renbenthung Lotha.

He revealed that emergency personnel have to battle fire and other natural elements without having the basic safety gears while responding to emergency situations. He admitted that the problems faced were not new but got worse as they had to fight fires without basic equipment that left them exposed to hazards of fire and sometimes poisonous fumes. 

Rebenthung also disclosed that the department did seem to lack required resources to provide the needed high standard protective clothing and equipment for the fire fighters to protect them from highly inflammable environment, high temperatures and convective and radiant thermal flux. 

He disclosed that because the fire fighters were not provided with such safety clothing and equipment, there were many cases of serious injuries suffered by them. Rebenthung said “Firefighting is one of the most dangerous occupations that require intensive physical work in hazardous environment”.

He said that despite earnest requests to higher authorities to provide basic and high-quality protective clothing and equipment to the fire fighters, nothing concrete has been done.

The OC Fire Station implied that instead of the safety and welfare of the personnel facing dangers while battling fires, the onus appeared to be elsewhere. He also made a strong point against the lack of concern among colony residents for having normal roads within their colonies. 

Rebenthung said some of the bylanes were so narrow that it was impossible even to visualise a fire truck entering the site to contain fires.

He also said public instead of being helpful by not crowding the sites of fire incidents, instead milled around and blocked the site and making it impossible for fire personnel to do their duties.

Dimapur Fire Station Central has old four fire tenders, two preserved water tankers and 49 fire fighters, all of which were on duty 24×7 he said.

He said 28 fire calls were received by the fire station between January 1 and December 31 2021, with eight major fire outbreaks, two at Lohorijan (Assam), Naharbari colony, St Mary (Church Road), Mishikito village, Thilixu area, Purana Bazar and Ura Villa Colony, including 20 minor outbreaks. He said the station received 26 fire calls in 2020.

He disclosed that fire calls were received mostly in the months of March and December which happen to be mostly during windy season and winter months when heaters, holiday decorations, winter storms and candles contributed to fire.

Renbenthung maintained that most of the fire outbreaks occurred due to negligence and uncertified and cheap wiring. He also appealed to people to douse fireplaces in kitchens as most fires start from there.