THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Although the government’s decision to induct women firefighters is hailed as a bold step, it may spark off a controversy. Express has learnt new female recruits are likely to be appointed to clerical positions.
The decision to induct women firefighters was taken by the Home Department last March and it had given the nod to induct 100 women in the first phase. However, sources said the department was prioritising the appointment of women as clerks rather than firefighters. The reason? They need vigorous training than men.
“We are not against inducting women into the department,” an officer told Express. “Women are amply present in clerical positions. Though the government said new posts would be created for firefighters, their plan is to transfer them to clerical positions once their training gets over. But, there is a huge dearth in the number of firefighters,” he said.
“Moreover, the induction process will be delayed further even though the department had sent the proposal to the Home Department three months ago,” he said. In the proposal, it was also decided to induct 15 women firefighters each in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode divisions and five each at other divisions. The department had also asked for the creation of 100 new firefighter posts in addition to the existing vacancies. However, the government is sitting on the file citing practical difficulties for recruitment, said sources.
The government should not be prejudiced when it comes to recruiting women in the firefighting section, cine artist and women’s rights activist Maala Parvathi told Express. “We want firefighters. Our state has contributed women well-versed in sports. So, why are they preventing them from engaging in rescue or firefighting operations? They have the talent and the energy. If women are not interested in applying or doing the job even after the department announces the test, then it is justifiable. But they are yet to make an announcement,”she said. Fire and Rescue Services director general DGP A Hemachandran refuted the allegation the department had given priority to inducting women as clerks.
“It’s too early to comment on this. We have sent a proposal to induct women firefighters alone, not clerks. The decision is left to the government and I hope it will be cleared within six months. So, there is no question of any delay. Besides, the existing trainers will also impart training to the newly inducted firefighters,”he said.
Only three states in the country have female firefighters. In 2003, Tamil Nadu had inducted women in the officer category while the Mumbai fire units had recruited five women as firefighters in 2012.
The Rajasthan Government replicated the system in 2014 by recruiting 155 female firefighters.The proposal to induct women into the force was earlier mooted by the previous UDF Government when Ramesh Chennithala was the Home Minister. However, it failed to take off.