Chandigarh: Perturbed at the sight of fire-
fighters using wet sacks and scarves on their heads in a
rescue operation, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today
ordered the immediate release of funds for new uniforms which,
he said, would improve the functioning of the fire department.
He also asked Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to assess if the personnel could be covered under fire insurance schemes.
The chief minister s instructions came at a state cabinet meeting, where he expressed concern over the state of affairs in the department, which lost six men fighting a fire that broke out in a building which collapsed in Ludhiana on Monday.
Singh, who had visited the site of the collapse yesterday, said he was perturbed to see firemen with wet sacks and scarves on their heads during the rescue operations there.
These men risk their lives for the sake of the people, he pointed out, adding that it was the duty of the government to ensure that they did not lack basic essentials to carry out their work. The rescue mission personnel, it is believed, tied the wet sacks and scarves to protect their heads and necks.
The chief minister said he was also informed about a severe staff and material shortage faced by the department, which was trying to make do with an inadequate number of men even in emergency situations such as the Ludhiana building collapse.
Singh also asked Sidhu to expedite the work on upgrading the department for efficient functioning. Sidhu claimed the previous SAD-BJP government had failed to do anything for the department and spent only Rs 13 crore on its equipment and upgradation from a budget of Rs 90 crore.
The chief minister said his government was taking all possible steps to improve the infrastructure of the department.
A Directorate of Fire Services was established earlier this year and 69 fire brigades were purchased and sent to the municipal corporations and municipal councils, he said.
Another 27 fire brigades would be added to the fleet by December, he said. A new Fire Safety Act was under formulation and would also be ready by December, he added.
The Directorate of Fire Services and the Fire Safety Act will check unauthorised buildings and those lacking fire safety measures, the chief minister said, adding that adequate equipment for the fire stations would be made available under the Fire Directorate, which will be headed by an IPS officer.