For around a dozen villages of Payerpora in Kupwara district there is just one firefighting vehicle available which cannot reach most of the hilly area, officials said.
Out of the 26 employees supposed to man the fire stationthere are only six in place. An employeeat the station said that there is acute shortage of manpower making itdifficult to handle a fire emergency in tough and hilly area.
"We should have amini-fire tender with 4X4 power and 1200 liter capacity which could cater tothe people living on 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 beyondsome areas due to heavy water load and narrow road.
"We are managing bythis vehicle but there is a dire need of a mini-vehicle for safeguarding thesehilly villagers during fire emergencies," Mir said, adding it is impossible tomanage two fire emergencies at the same time because of manpower shortage.
There are no separate employees for operating the fireengine, Mir said.
"It is very difficultto manage without enough men. Sometimes we get beaten up by locals after takinglong to douse the flames. If we have two vehicles and allotted manpower then wecan provide our service best," Mir said.
The Payerpora fire station is D-category which should haveone station officer and one sub-officer leading four firemen, two mechanicaldrivers, two simple drivers and 16 firemen on the ground.
"When any fireincidents happen there are only six members who are handling the situation inwhich three firemen, one driver, one sub-officer and one leading fireman handlethe situation," said the Station House Officer at Payerpora, Haihama.
The staff at the station cannot take leave during theirpersonal emergencies. "We are not ableto sanction the driver's leave because he is the only driver at the station andfire call can come anytime," Mir said.
"We have written tothe higher ups to provide us the necessary manpower so that better service canbe provided but nothing has been done yet as the department itself is facing ashortage of manpower."