mid-day editorial: Firefighters take enough heat for us

Published: Dec 17, 2016, 06:10 IST | mid-day correspondent

The massive fire that broke out in Behrampada slum, near the station in Bandra (E) earlier this month, was a huge challenge not just because of the scale of the fire, but because the firefighters had to continuously protect themselves and their vehicles from a rowdy mob

The massive fire that broke out in Behrampada slum, near the station in Bandra (E) earlier this month, was a huge challenge not just because of the scale of the fire, but because the firefighters had to continuously protect themselves and their vehicles from a rowdy mob.

The locals manhandled them and damaged a vehicle while they were fighting the fire. Now, the fire brigade union has now warned that firefighters will not attend emergency calls in the area without police protection.

It is shocking that the protectors of the people had to face danger on two fronts, from the fire and from the very people they were trying to help. The slum dwellers should have realise that the firefighters had come to save them; they should have treated them with respect and given all co-operation.

The slums, too, are a ticking time bomb and tinderbox - a maze of little lanes, overcrowded, impossibly obstructed, proliferated wildly out of proportion, with so many irregularities that the situation has gone out of hand.

While those illegalities flourish, they become even more of a deathtrap. A fire means instant collapse of a structure and it will be difficult to evacuate people because of so many obstacles.

On top of this, if a firefighter has to fear being attacked, his abilities will naturally be compromised. It is necessary that firefighters get full protection from the police as they discharge their duties.

Slum dwellers who heckle official personnel, damage vehicles and compound grave situations, need to be very firmly dealt with. They also chip away at the morale of the force, who might question as to why they should risk their life for these people. Firefighters need a salute and it is hugely disappointing and they are insulted and injured instead.

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