Of the 25 fire stations in Karachi, 11 are non-functional which means the country’s largest city only has 14 functional fire stations.
Likewise, the city’s fire department has five snorkels, which are required for firefighting operations at high-rise buildings. However, only two of them are in working condition. These facts were told to Sindh Information and Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah in a briefing on Sunday as he visited Karachi’s Central Fire Station.
The local government minister announced on the occasion that the government would disburse “fire risk allowance of three months” to the personnel of the city’s fire brigade department.
He acknowledged that the government was supposed to pay arrears to the firefighters in terms of paying them the fire risk allowance. He said that in the first phase, the government would soon pay the arrears of three months to “compensate and motivate them to show more courage and zeal in serving the people of the city”.
He lauded the firefighters for performing their duties to the best of their abilities in despite challenging situation. “Still, they are showing the spirit that is required to safeguard human lives”.
The local government minister said it had come to his knowledge that the city’s fire brigade had been facing a shortage of staff, including drivers. He said he had issued the necessary directives to improve this situation at the earliest.
He directed the relevant officials to contact the companies that had earlier provided fire tenders and snorkels for maintenance in the best possible manner. Nasir said the fire brigade department was “a sensitive emergency civic service of the city” as vehicles available to them should remain in operational condition to be readily used for firefighting operations.
He directed the officials concerned to extract subsoil water through boring at fire stations of the areas that frequently witnessed fire incidents. Nasir also advised the officials concerned to hire the services of experts to modernise the fire brigade system in the city and to impart the latest training to the firemen.
Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Karachi Administrator and Commissioner Iftikhar Ali Shallwani said that expenses to be borne on the repair of the faulty fire tenders in the city would be properly recorded to make them operational at the earliest.
He said the local government minister had given assurance to increase the budget, if there was any such requirement, for the procurement of fuel for the fire tenders. He said the local government department’s secretary would be informed on the vacant posts for the fire brigade personnel in the city.
Karachi Metropolitan Commissioner Syed Salauddin said around 10 fire stations were located in areas where frequent fire incidents occurred and that they would carry out boring there to arrange additional subsoil water for firefighting in those localities.
He said the phone lines at the fire stations should remain in working condition. He said he had directed the officials concerned to procure official phone lines for fire stations where private phone numbers were being used.