India

How Fire Department is maintaining its ‘Midas Touch’ during Covid

<br>The media vans were already gathered at the stretch and a lot of onlookers were busy taking videos of the spot where three men stood in deep water waiting for help.

Within the next few minutes the fire officers using an extension ladder horizontally reached the victims and rescued the DTC bus driver and the conductor.

“Another man, an auto driver stood on the auto but was still knee deep in water. We managed the ladder to reach him. He was rescued too,” Nitin said. Another auto driver however died as he could not be traced under water. His body was taken out later.

Asked if the pandemic has changed the rescue operations, Nitin said ” During the pandemic the set of precautions have amplified. We also get calls from containment zones. We take all precautions but lives have to be saved. A minimum level of risk comes with every job. Once we are back in office we sanitise ourselves. We are also given kits and masks. However, in cases of fire we can't use gloves as they could be damaged by heat.”

Delhi Fire Service Director Atul Garg was on a conference call when he was contacted. He too felt that the pandemic has changed the working of every force on the frontline.

“We have adapted to the pandemic and slightly modified our working. Now we have formed a separate set of team members who focus on rescue operations. They are two to four in number. The rest of the team focuses on the fire dousing operations. This is done to ensure that the entire team is not infected even if someone contracts it in the rescue operation,” Atul Garg said.

The fire department has seen a 30 percent dip in fire calls in April, May and June this year amid the pandemic. The department says that since fewer offices and workplaces or factories are operational so there are also fewer calls. However, that doesn't stop the fire department from being on its toes round the clock.

In May this year there was a fire in a Covid designated hospital in South Delhi, just six men were tasked to enter the building among the thirty firemen who reached the spot. At least eight precious lives were saved. This was again to avert any transmission among the entire team.

Rajesh Kumar Shukla, Assistant Divisional Officer posted in DFS and in-charge of at least four fire stations in the walled city, feels that the reaction time of the fire department is very crucial as the department receives a wide range of calls like accidents, fire, drowning, trapped or stranded in water or a high rise building.

“At a crucial time like this, it never crosses our mind that someone might be Covid infected. We have to save lives. That's our job. There is a chance of survival if we contract the disease while saving a life but if we leave someone stranded in a fire, what chance of survival does he have,” Shukla said.

–IANS<br>zaz/bg

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