For around a dozen villages of Payerpora in Kupwara district, there is just one big-size fire-fighting vehicle available which cannot reach most of the hilly area, officials said.
Out of the 26 employees supposed to man the fire station, there are only six available.
An employee at the station said there is acute shortage of manpower making it difficult to handle a fire emergency in the tough hilly area.
“We should have a mini-fire tender with 4X4 power and 1200 liter capacity which could deal with fire accidents in the hilly terrain of this area,” said Abdul Rasheed Mir, in-charge the Payerpora fire station.
Mir said the big fire fighting vehicle cannot move up beyond some areas due to heavy water load and narrow steep road.
“We are managing by this vehicle but there is a dire need of a mini-vehicle for safeguarding these hilly villagers during fire emergencies,” Mir said, adding it is impossible to manage two fire emergencies at the same time because of manpower shortage.
There is no separate employee for operating the fire engine, Mir said.
“It is very difficult to manage without enough men. Sometimes we get beaten up by the locals for taking it a long to douse the flames. If we have two vehicles and allotted manpower then we can deal with the emergencies in a better way,” Mir said.
The Payerpora fire station is D-category which should have one station officer and one sub-officer leading four firemen, two mechanical drivers, two simple drivers and 16 firemen on the ground.
“When any fire incidents happen there are only six members who are handling the situation in which three firemen, one driver, one sub-officer and one leading fireman handling the situation,” said the station house officer at Payerpora, Haihama.
The staff at the fore station cannot take leave during their personal exigencies.
“We are not able to sanction the driver’s leave because he is the only driver on the station and fire call can come anytime,” Mir said.
“We have written to the higher-ups to provide us with the necessary manpower so that better service can be provided but nothing has been done yet as the department itself is facing a shortage of manpower.”