INDIA – For the first time, Delhi Fire Service (DFS) in India, is hiring private fire fighters on contract to make up for the lack of manpower. On Monday, 500 professionals from a private firm, trained in fire fighting and carrying out rescue operations, will join the DFS, top officials said. Senior officers from the department said all the 500 personnel are trained and match the DFS’s standards of training in fire fighting. The 500 were selected through a stringent process, they added. Atul Garg, director, Delhi Fire Service, said a fire fighter should be able to bravely and at the same time efficiently react to a situation when lives are at stake. “Even though these new cadets have been hired after a detailed process to check their proficiency in fire fighting, they will be under continuous supervision of senior officers,” he added. Garg said this is the first time that DFS is hiring private fire fighters. “It is a temporary arrangement. Despite recruiting around 600 men last year, we were still short of 706 fire fighters. With these 500 men, we will be able to fill more than 80 percent of our vacancies. The process of recruitment is also underway. Because it is a long process, these contractual employees will fill in till the time the government’s recruitment is completed,” he said.
“These men will play role of support staff for us. While our regular fire fighters have a 24-hour shift, the contractual staff will have only eight-hour shift. We will provide them with all the safety gear, uniforms and other equipment when they’re at work. They will also assist our staff in maintenance of equipment and conducting awareness programmes,” Garg said.
He said the contractual fire fighters have been taken from the private firm, Digitek, via GEM (government e-market place), a central government owned e-portal where common user goods and services can be procured. The DFS will pay the Digitek which will pay salary to its staff, he added.
Former chief of Delhi Fire Service, AK Sharma, who led the department for six years between 2010 and 2016, said it is a good way to fill in for pending vacancies. “Since these professionals are already trained the training part is also done away with which saves DFS’s time and resources. DFS requires skilled professionals, which have not been provided for long time. If the manpower requirement is being met using other avenues there’s no harm in this,” Sharma said.