About Fire Service

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The Fire services are not well organized in India.  In recent years, the requirements for fire safety cover have increased manifold whereas the development of Fire Service has not made much headway.  The setting up of Industrial Plants at a fast pace with extensive use of hazardous materials and the construction of larger and taller buildings have multiplied the problems of fire fighting.  The fire hazards are no longer confined to big cities and manufacturing centers only.  Vast quantities of hazardous commodities are daily moved by different modes of transport all across the country posing complicated fire rescue problems. If the objective of ensuring safety of life and property in urban and rural areas is to be achieved, then a complete over-hauling of fire service organization is called for.  The fire services need to be organized properly with adequate infrastructure and equipment for keeping pace with advancement of technology and economic growth.

ROLE OF FIRE SERVICES IN INDIA: Role of Fire Service in India  broadly is extinguishing fire and protecting life and property in case of fire.  Fire Service role has changed dramatically in the last few years.  Some changes were influenced by external forces, while the impetus for others was the organization itself.   All these changes have increased the risk of the profession.  The fire service now responds to hazardous material incidents, advanced emergency medical situations, high   angle rescue and confined space rescue incidents, trench and collapse operations, underwater rescue and more.  It has been said that "when the experts panic, they call the fire department." In the immediate aftermath of any disaster coordinated search and rescue efforts are critical to saving lives and property. Past experience has shown that in the exigencies of disasters, whether it be a large scale or comparatively smaller ones the armed forces are frequently called upon to assist the civil authorities.  However, the mobilization and deployment of armed forces for search and rescue delays response time which is critical for the survival of disaster victims.   It is necessary that districts and States should have their own arrangements for carrying out search and rescue operations immediately after a disaster.  Enhancement of search and rescue capabilities of the State and districts for quick response will save lives.  This can be achieved with the minimum of additional cost by developing the Fire Services as multi hazard response units.

Financial Assistance to the States/UTs for the modernization of Fire Services

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has been assisting the State Governments to increase the fire fighting capabilities by arranging soft loan from General Insurance Corporation through the Ministry of Finance (Insurance Division) for the purchase of Capital Fire Fighting Equipments and construction of Fire Station buildings.  From 1980 to 2005, a sum of Rs. 406.47 crore loan was sanctioned for the development State Fire Services.  The details are available at Appendix-I.

  • The 10th and 11th Finance Commissions had allocated Rs. 80 crore and Rs 201 crore respectively for the development of Fire Services in the States, especially in all District Headquarters and also for town having a population of 50,000 and above during the plan period 1995-2000 and 2000-05 respectively.  These measures have helped in the creation and establishment of some basic firefighting capabilities in the States.

  • National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) projected a requirement of Rs. 7000 crore to the 13th Finance Commission for revamping Fire and Emergency Services in the country. The Commission recognizing the need to restructure Fire and Emergency Services across the urban and rural areas of the country recommended that a portion of the grants provided to the urban local bodies be spent on revamping of Fire Services within their respective jurisdiction.  The commission recommended the allocation of Rs. 87519 crore to the local bodies.  The States were made eligible to draw down its share only if they complied with nine conditions.  One of the condition was “All municipal corporation with a population of more than 1 million (2001 census) must put in place a fire hazard response and mitigation plan for their respective area.  Publications of these plans in the respective State Governments gazettes would demonstrate compliance with this condition”.  In addition, the Commission also recommended allocation of Rs. 472 crores to the 7 States namely Andhra Pradesh   (Rs. 17 crore), Haryana (Rs. 100 crore), Mizoram (Rs. 20 crore), Odisha (Rs. 150 crore), Tripura (Rs. 15 crore), Uttar Pradesh (Rs. 20 crore) and West Bengal (Rs. 150 crore) for revamping of Fire & Emergency Services placed on the projections made by the State Government directly to the Commission.  Out of this Rs. 404 crore were released to these States. Details of grants in aid released on the basis of the recommendations of various Finance Commission (FC) are at Appendix-II.

  • The Scheme for ‘Strengthening of Fire & Emergency Services in the Country’ (2009-13): The Government had approved a Scheme on 22.10.2009 for ‘Strengthening of Fire & Emergency Services’ at a total outlay of Rs. 200 crore, which mainly involved capital expenditure for procurement of equipments worth Rs. 178.12 crore and training, advertising, monitoring and evaluation amounting to Rs. 21.88 crore. Rs. 176.56 crore were released to the States during 2009-2013. Details of the State wise funds released are at Appendix-III.

  • The Scheme for ‘Modernization of Fire and Emergency Services in the Country’ (2014-2016): In addition, the Government of India has launched a new scheme on Modernization of Fire and Emergency Services for a total outlay of Rs. 75 crore on 29th October, 2014. Rs. 30 crore were released during 2014-15 to the States. The scheme has since been subsumed in the State Plan Funds w. e. f. 1st April, 2015 and hence no budget provision has been made during 2015-16 to the States. However, Rs. 04 crore to two Union Territories with legislature during 2015-16 has been released. The State wise details are at Appendix-IV.