Pune: The Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) Fire Department is facing a manpower crunch to tackle increasing fire incidents in the city. This is in the backdrop of the city transforming from a pensioner’s paradise into an IT hub by growing exponentially in the past two decades.
On the occasion of National Fire Service Week 2018, it was learnt that the Fire Department has only 50 per cent of its required staff, who attend to over 12,000 fire incidents per year.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) corporator Adv Gafur Shaikh got this data on the manpower crunch in the Fire Department as a reply to his written query in the monthly General Body meeting on Thursday.
According to the statistics, the Fire Department needs 921 personnel. However, they have only 449 staff members. There are 13 fire stations, including a central fire station located in Bhavani Peth under the department.
The Fire Brigade receives 35-40 calls per week. The number of emergency calls increases to about 70 per week during summer.
Nine firemen work daily in three shifts. It is an essential service, where there shouldn’t be a lack of manpower. Prashant Ranpise, Chief of the Fire Brigade, told Sakal Times, “We are managing with the available manpower and have proposed to recruit skilled staffers on a contractual basis. The proposal is pending for the past three months.”
Another official from the administration said, “The proposal is pending due to the issue of insurance of the contractual skilled firemen. The general administration has raised a query as to who will pay the insurance premium of the firemen on a contractual basis. It is a risky profession.”