Fire Force to be armed with power to take action in building safety norm violations

Fireman Renjith
The Fire Force chief has recommended to the State Government to allow Rs 50 lakh compensation to Renjith's family. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Soon the Fire & Rescue Services will be vested with the power to take direct action against those buildings and their owners upon failing to ensure compliance with fire safety norms.

Presently, the department can only report such instances to the Local Self-Government bodies upon detection of such violations, and the action could be initiated only after a lengthy process involving multiple agencies.

Providing more teeth to the Fire & Rescue services will be one of the sweeping changes to be introduced to the Kerala Fire Force Act, 1962, to ensure the safety of buildings. The action comes in the wake of the recent incident in which a fireman was killed while attempting to douse a massive fire that erupted at the Kerala Medical Services Corporation Limited (KMSCL) drug warehouse at Kinfra Industrial Park in Thumba here. The building allegedly did not have a No Objection Certificate.

“The draft of the amended law has been readied. The Government has inspected the same and given back to the department to translate the Act into Malayalam,” sources said.

Meanwhile, the Fire Force will recommend to the Government to bring out a provision to make it compulsory to submit the building plans of ‘risky’ structures like flats, go-downs, and factories, to the respective local Fire Force stations for inspection.

Earlier, the Kerala Fire Services Association suggested that measures to ensure the visit of such buildings by the Fire Force personnel to assess their safety, besides inspection of the materials being used and stored in them, be initiated. It is in this background that the Fire Force has decided to make the recommendation to the Government.

Women personnel in Fire Force; robots for dangerous missions
The Fire Force, for the first time, will deploy women personnel in accident sites to carry out rescue activities. The training for 100 women personnel, being selected through a special recruitment drive, will start at the Kerala Fire Force Academy next month. Their posting exercise has commenced.

The department has also initiated measures to deploy robots in disaster sites where it is too dangerous for personnel to engage in rescue activities. The Fire Force is purchasing Robotic Fire Fighting vehicles for this purpose. They can be effectively deployed in sites of massive fire breakouts and where the thick smoke billowing out hampers the Fire personnel in carrying out quick rescue activities. The remote-control vehicles will have cameras and water pumping systems.

Fire Force for Rs 50 lakh compensation to family of fireman killed
The Fire Force chief has recommended to the State Government to allow Rs 50 lakh compensation to the family of 32-year-old fireman Renjith, who was killed while dousing a massive fire that broke out at the state-run drug warehouse, said A Shijil Kumar, General Secretary, Kerala Fire Services Association. The association has discussed with Chief B Sandhya various measures to be initiated for ensuring the safety of Fire Force personnel, he added.

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