Mumbai: NMMC gives fire department charge to transport boss!

Updated: Sep 17, 2019, 07:18 IST | Anamika Gharat |

Former and serving officers slam civic body for its knee-jerk appointment

Shirish Adarwad
Shirish Adarwad

Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation has given the chief fire officer's position, which was vacant for four years, to the head of its transport department. Experts, and even serving NMMC officials, said the appointment is a blatant violation of fire safety norms.

Executive Engineer (Transport) Shirish Adarwad's appointment was made on September 4, just a day after a huge blaze on an ONGC site in Uran, which falls under neighbouring Panvel Municipal Corporation.

There were 720 incidents of fire reported in NMMC's jurisdiction in the last 12 months. Apart from blazes, fire stations handle emergencies, accidents and rescues.

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As per rules, a municipal fire chief should have two years' experience as a deputy chief fire officer, hold at least a bachelor's degree in Chemistry and be a member of the Institution of Fire Engineers, Nagpur, India or UK. Adarwad, who fulfils none of the above conditions, did not respond to mid-day's calls.

Asked why such an appointment was made and what will happen in case of an emergency, Additional Commissioner Kiranraj Yadav said, "It is just an additional charge that we had to fill. We can't keep thinking about hypothetical circumstances.

I can't give any further details."

A CFO's job is not easy. A station officer, who held additional charge of CFO for the last few years, said: "I faced many difficulties. It is very difficult to handle admin work and field work at the same time. A CFO is there because he has that much more experience and knowledge to guide juniors. The lack of a CFO means we lack the technical know-how to renew fire NOCs to housing societies, hospitals, restaurants and other buildings. Even recently, had the ONGC fire escalated, they (PMC) would have called us for support and it would have been really difficult for us to help without a knowledgeable officer guiding us."

Pratap Kaguppikar, ex-Joint Chief Fire Officer, said: "There is a shortage of officers, but this doesn't mean that any engineer is eligible to be made CFO."

MV Deshmukh, former director and fire advisor to the Maharashtra government, said a CFO has three important responsibilities. "The officer has to: 1. enforce the Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, the National Building Code and the municipal Development Control Rules, 2. plan strategy to combat fires or organise rescue operations, guide the crew, deal with the state as part of operational duty, and 3. maintain direct communication and keep the force disciplined and motivated. It is a violation of rules for a person without the requisite qualifications to be given the CFO's post."

No. of fires in Navi Mumbai inlast 12 months

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