As many as 240 firemen joined the Delhi Fire Services (DFS) Friday, bringing some relief to the understaffed department. Another 300 are expected to join next month. DFS chief Atul Garg told The Sunday Express Saturday that around 540 new recruits joined the service in December, following which they were given rigorous training for six months.
“We are all working overtime, especially during summer when there are more instances of fire. However, we are trained to work 24 hours and our training is one of the toughest in the world. The main improvement that we are looking for is increasing our manpower,” said Garg.
The trainees have been inducted into the service and have been posted in east and central divisions, which have witnessed more distress calls, Garg said. The remaining 300 men will join the service around August first week.
Details received on July 1, through an RTI application filed by advocate Aditya Prasad, showed that around 43% operational and fire fighting staff positions were vacant at the time. As per the RTI, DFS had 1,253 firemen and operators against 2,367 sanctioned posts. “The number of posts sanctioned are actually less than what’s required, but the service should at least fill the vacancies that are already there. Many firefighters are having to work overtime,” Prasad said.
Garg said the posts had been sanctioned since before 2002, when he joined the service, based on predictions of requirement for the city. Vacancies started being filled with the building of new fire stations, but recruitment faced several delays.
The fire chief said they were planning to employ 25% of communication staff and 500 members of firefighting staff, who would already be trained for work, on a contract basis. The plan is currently awaiting financial approval from the state government.
He added that the remaining firefighting staff posts would take another year to fill.
“By next year, the department would make predictions of future fire staff requirement for the city and sanction more posts,” he said.
The latest RTI reply from DFS also shows that 80 communication staff posts are yet to be filled in the service, including 65 positions for radio telephone operator.