Seven years after the Delhi Fire Services (DFS) last recruited fire fighters, more than 500 fire operators are expected to join the force, following the Central Administrative Tribunal’s directions to continue its recruitment process for fire operators.
The DFS, which gets over 30,000 fire calls in a year, has been reeling under a 40% staff shortage. According to officials, the summer months see an average of 100-120 fire calls, while the monsoon sees building collapses. Even in winters, an average of 90 calls are received in a month, DFS said.
With retirement age fast approaching for senior fire officers, the influx of new fire operators is expected to take the steam off fire stations in Shahdara, East Delhi and South East Delhi.
“This recruitment would have taken place in October last year, but some candidates approached a city court saying they were not fairly judged. I told the court that we have a lot of vacancies and would love to take them under the DFS. We now have permission to induct them,” Chief Fire Officer Atul Garg told The Indian Express.
Firefighters usually have to rely on an outdated training manual developed by the Nagpur-based National Fire Service College. Now, DFS has deputed senior officers who underwent training at the Singapore Fire Academy to usher in a new training programme.
Additional Divisional Officer Ajay Sharma has been busy training fresh recruits at the Delhi Fire Safety Service and Management Academy in Rohini.
To make sure fire fighters are on par with their French and American counterparts, the new recruits underwent a gruelling six-month endurance and dexterity training. They spent at least three hours every morning undergoing cross-fit training. “We made them beat large tractor tyres with hammers, run for 5 kilometres, made them march in police formations and learn the newest fire fighting methods taught in Singapore,” Sharma told The Indian Express.
The first batch of 330 fire operators are expected to join next week, and other batches will follow in the coming month. The fresh recruits have already attended more than a hundred fire calls as part of their assignment and were even made to pull in endurance training for five hours at night. “We have also acquired 16 acres of land near Bawana to open a modernised training facility for our recruits,” Sharma said.
Furthermore, a committee has been formed to research and acquire the latest fire-fighting gadgetry. With building collapses making headlines in Delhi last year, the DFS is also planning on stocking up on hydraulic cutting tools and introducing a course on building collapse rescues.