KOZHIKODE: Acute staff crunch continues to affect the Kerala Fire and Rescue Services Department. As per the data available with the department, as many as 1,238 posts, more than one-third of the total strength, which should be filled by PSC appointments, promotions and by-transfers, are lying vacant across the state. Of this, 1,098 posts to be filled are of Fireman and 53 of Fireman-cum-Driver posts.
Currently, 3,135 employees are with the Fire and Rescue Services Department which has 106 stations in the state. Though the inadequacies and shortage of human resources had been revealed before the public many times before, the authorities seem to be turning a blind eye to the issue.
When contacted, Director of Administration, Fire and Rescue Services Headquarters at Thiruvananthapuram, Joe Kuruvila Eso, said, “I am not ready to respond on the issue... call somebody else.” The Fire Force was renamed Kerala Fire and Rescue Services Department in 2002 for broadening its field of activity. Even then, no attempt was made to frame a manual in the model of the Kerala Police Manual, which acts as the basic code for the police.
Though the force was formed in 1962 separating it from the Police Force by the Kerala Fire Force Act of 1962, no rules had been formulated under the Act even after many decades. Hence, the duties of the Fire and Rescue Services are not defined till now, officials pointed out.
Moreover, the two-month training for the Fireman post includes mainly parade only. The training syllabus for Fire and Rescue Service personnel does not include swimming or rescue operations in water. Meanwhile, an official with the Headquarters said that the move for reporting the vacancies to the PSC is under way. “A rank list of Fireman-cum-Pump Operator was published on April 29, this year. Besides, 53 posts of Fireman Driver cum Pump Operator, 1,010 posts of Fireman, 14 posts of Station Officer and one post of Assistant Divisional Officer were reported to the PSC,” he told ‘Express’ on condition of anonymity.