Fire dept. modernisation plan gets a shot in the arm

Budget allocates ₹69 crore for the purpose

The Fire and Rescue Services Department is elated over the retention of the same budgetary allocation of ₹69 crore for its modernisation as in the previous budget.

It is being perceived as largesse on the part of the government to be considerate to the needs of the department despite financial constrains in the wake of the pandemic.

Senior department sources said the allocation would go a long way in going ahead with modernisation proposals like replacement of the old fleet of vehicles with technically advanced ones. “We have prioritised our proposals like purchase of turntable ladders for firefighting in high-rises. First response vehicles, the first to rush to the scene in the event of an emergency, and new water tenders and water lorries are also on the priority list,” sources said.

The budget, however, made a “confusing” announcement on the formulation of a scheme called ‘Civil Defence’ in 2021-22, though a 6,500-strong Civil Defence Force (CDF) made up of volunteers and attached to fire force stations across the State is already functional.

However, a senior official said it was probably meant as a reinforcement of the CDF by enlisting more volunteers and buying new equipment for which Central funding is also available under disaster preparedness. “The force may need a uniform to identify it in a disaster site, while the numbers also need to be increased from the present 50 volunteers per fire station. They also need to be given advanced training,” he added.

The Excise Department is also satisfied with the allocation of ₹18 crore, including ₹7crore for ‘Vimukthi,’ its de-addiction mission.

A senior department official said the outlay might come in handy for its proposal to set up de-addiction centres for women and children in the three zones of Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, and Kozhikode.

It is in addition to a State-level de-addiction centre being planned on 50 acres of leased land at Kinaloor in Kozhikode district. “The centre will be of world-class standard and is being modelled on the lines of the Bengaluru-based National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS). The project is still in its infancy and works are under way to arrange the lease of land from the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation,” the official said.

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