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Govt mulls to introduce firefighting measures from waterways, says Sovan

Kolkata: The state Fire and Emergency department is mulling to create a separate unit to carry out firefighting operations from waterways. The idea triggered in the wake of a devastating fire at a godown of Kolkata Port Trust at Armenian Ghat on Tuesday night that was located just adjacent to the river.
"We had already held a preliminary discussion with Kolkata Police on whether we can develop infrastructure for firefighting from the surface of the river. This will help us in tackling fire in places adjacent to the river in a more effective way," state Fire minister Sovan Chatterjee said.
It is learnt that the minister has decided to form a committee with police officials and officials from the fire department to push the idea. The idea is to have a vessel like thing on the river with firefighting equipment. Director General (DG) Fire Services and Kolkata Polcie Commissioner Rajiv Kumar has already had discussions in this regard. "The committee will form a blueprint of the model and we will proceed accordingly," a senior official of the state Fire department said. There are a number of godowns of Kolkata Port Trust adjacent to the river.
During the firefighting operations in the Armenian Ghat godown, the tenders procured water through pumps from the river. However, the process was hindered during low tide.
It is learnt that the Fire department has already got the nod of the state Cabinet to recruit as many as 3,000 people in the form of Fire Operators (FO) and Auxillary Fire Operators (AFO). 1,500 FOs and the same number of AFOs will be recruited in the department through proper procedure and the process is expected to be complete by June 2018. Shortage of manpower in the department has been an area of concern for the Fire department for a long time. The department presently has a vacancy of 5,118. The department has already procured as many as 50 support vehicles for firefighting.
These vehicles similar to the model of a Bolero Camper will be beneficial in rapid carrying of fire equipment and also manpower to a fire site. "There have been instances particularly in cases of big fire incidents when we need replacement of firefighters. These vehicles will carry four to five people who will replace those who have become weary. Inducting fresh manpower will surely lead to more effective firefighting," a senior official of the Fire department said.
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