BANGALORE: While the rest of the city is celebrating Diwali, the Karnataka Fire and Emergency Services department staff will have to give up even their weekly holidays.
“No leaves will be sanctioned either. We have already sent out notices to everyone,” says deputy director, fire prevention wing, N U Erappa. This is among the precautions that the department takes every year. The staff works in three shifts from when Diwali begins to the end of this month.
“If people are allowed to take their weekly offs, then we will have 30 per cent less force available at a given time,” says chief fire officer, Bangalore East, N R Markandeya.
As officers prepare to make the city safe, allowing for accidents as they ‘can’t ask people to stop enjoying themselves,’ they appeal to people’s civic sense to help make their job easier. “It’s common sense — you don’t let your kids burst crackers without adult supervision,” says Bangalore’s other chief fire officer (West), C Basavanna.
It would also be advisable not to light crackers too late into the night, adds his colleague Markandeya. “And not in front of hospitals or close to places that store combustible material. Last year, a paint showroom in Basaveshwara Nagar caught fire.”
Even those who sell crackers are required to obtain NOCs from the department, which has to ensure that sale and storage of crackers are prohibited in congested or thickly-populated localities. “There are open spaces, grounds, identified by the BBMP for this,” Erappa says.
“Each stall should have a entries/ exits in the front and back. They should be equipped with water and buckets,” he says, adding that to ask them to keep fire extinguishers might be expecting too much.
However, despite these procedures, it’s hard to ensure that those in the crackers follow guidelines, says Markandeya.
“They could even have illegal crackers — ones above the decibel limit; it’s hard for us to keep track of each group of stalls.”
Allow children to light crackers only when an adult is around
Don’t wear loose, flowing clothes while lighting crackers
Hold sparklers away from the body
Don’t bend over crackers while lighting them. Light them from the side
Don’t burst crackers in metal containers
Don’t put crackers into your pocket
Don’t store or unpack crackers near a flame or heat source
Don’t return to a cracker once you light it; it could explode in your face