BARAMULLA: The Fire and Emergency Services (F&ES) Department has failed to provide a second fire tender to one of the most important and overloaded fire stations of north Kashmir – a delay that has lasted 40 years amid an increase in fire incidents in the area. Though the tender is a long-pending demand of local residents, the administration seems to have no interest in fulfilling it.
Local people of the area said that one fire tender and seven employees were provided to Fire Service Station Pattan in 1980. “After that, we have made several requests to the state administration and the Director General of the F&ES Department for another vehicle,” said one, “but the administration is in a deep slumber and did not bother about the hundreds of villages of this geographically difficult area whose population is in lakhs.”
Another local, Ghulam Muhidin Sofi, told Kashmir Reader that there has been only one fire tender, with seven employees, at Fire Service Station Pattan for the last forty years. The seven employees include a driver and a female employee who are meant to be on call for hundreds of villages from Narbal to Rengee, in areas from Goshbugh to Diver Parihaspora, Ussan, Palhallan, Gund, Khawaja Qasim, Zangam, Sherpora, Nihalpora, Cheksari, Andergam, Gondbal, Palhalan, Wailo, etc. The station covers almost half the district with a team nowhere near adequate for such a huge population.
“We have time and again made requests to the DG F&ES Department for more fire tenders, but our requests fell on deaf ears every time. We fail to understand how they can expect this small fire station to cover such a huge area,” Sofi said. Locals further alleged that in the maximum fire incidents, tenders are called from Sopore and other areas to help the Pattan fire tender to control the outbreak, but by the time they reach the spot, it is too late.
When contacted, DG F&ES Department Rajindar Kumar Hak said that the department is going to recruit more men, after which it plans to upgrade the Pattan fire station. “Actually, we have a shortage of staff in the department. Now the government has allowed us to recruit more men and as soon as we do so, we will upgrade Fire Service Station Pattan and will also provide it one more vehicle,” Hak said.