BANGALORE: One of the leading voices on firefighting and safety G B Menon said that the fire and rescue services are the most-neglected wings in India. In an interview to Express, the 88-year-old veteran, who has been batting for firefighters’ cause at national and international forums, felt that ‘continuous neglect’ by the administration have hit the morale of firefighters in India.
In city to attend the two-day international conference jointly organised by the Aviation Fire Protection Association and Indian Aviation Fire Safety Specialist Group, Menon said that the firefighters deserved a better deal. “They are deprived of all privileges and service conditions compared to some of their counterparts. To top it all, the awareness levels on fire and safety are extremely poor in India, although the firefighters are always ready to sacrifice their lives for others,” Menon said. He was conferred upon the Lifetime Achievement Award during the event.
He said that the alarm bells often go off in India every time a major accident occurs. “When a fire incident happens, people make a lot of noise and everything is forgotten soon. No sincere effort is being made to study the shortcomings so as to put proper systems in place. We need a policy that will fetch some attention for firefighters,” said Menon, who has been a former fire advisor to the central government.
Claiming that though the Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting teams contribute immensely for the safety of Indian airports, he said they are often a neglected lot. “Airport managements must give more attention to the ARFF teams. They must get best equipment, and upgrading of systems should be the buzzword. The command and control of state fire and rescue services should be under professional officers,” said Menon, who has been pushing the UN to declare a World Fire Safety Day.
In his opinion, airport fire and safety must get attention on par with security. “There cannot be one set of standards for security and another for fire safety. I have taken up this matter with the Prime Minister and Home Minister. Some crucial shortcomings are adversely affecting the efficiency of emergency services in the country. We cannot have a casual approach,” Menon said.