‘Fire incidents on decrease, but downtown still vulnerable due to Congestion’

Property worth over Rs 70 Crore damaged in fire incidents across Kashmir since Jan this year, Sgr records highest number of fire calls at 384; property worth Rs 30 Crore damaged reveals Official data; Man Power shortage issue addressed, shortage of officers prevails, many vehicles outdated, time to add more latest vehicles in the fleet, says Joint Director F&ES Kashmir

Stating that the fire incidents have shown a considerable decline in Kashmir in the past few years due to the less use of wooden material in the new construction but downtown Srinagar continues to be a challenge and vulnerable to fire given congested localities and narrow lanes.

In an exclusive interview with the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), Joint Director Fire and Emergency Services (F&ES) Kashmir Bashir Ahmed Shah, given the figures available with them since 2016, fire incidents have shown a tremendous dip across Kashmir. “Reasons are obvious that people use very less wood in the construction. Wooden roofs first and second storeys of new houses have been replaced by concrete cemented slabs,” said Shah. He said that final roofing is made of wood and overall there is concrete construction including walls etc of new houses.

Shah, however, said that downtown areas of Srinagar continue to remain vulnerable to fire incidents given congested localities and narrow lanes, which makes it difficult to maneuver for the firemen when it comes to dousing of flames. He urged people across Kashmir, especially downtown not to call police stations in case of fire incident and instead rightaway dial 101 and give exact location of the incident site.

As per the figures available with the KNO, property worth over Rs 70 Crore has been damaged in various fire incidents across Kashmir highest after 2016 when the figure was property worth Rs 87.41 crore was damaged. The data states that this year, Srinagar recorded highest ever fire calls at 384 followed by Baramulla at 252. “In Srinagar, property worth 2,914.96 lakhs were damaged in the ensuing year in various fire related incidents,” the figure suggest.

Replying to a query about shortage of manpower in the F&ES department, the Joint Director said that after 700 employees were inducted in the department through recruitment in year 2020, the shortage of manpower was addressed to a large extent but the shortage of officers’ remains. About availability of new vehicles, he said even though the department procured some new vehicles while as world bank also provided some fire dousing vehicles, but majority of the vehicles available with the department are outdated and need to be replaced by latest ones—(KNO)

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