Fire service dept ill-prepared in K’taka: CAG

Despite the fire mishap at Carlton Towers here, the Department of Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services does not have separate standard operating procedures(SOPs) to deal with different emergencies, a CAG report said.

Bangalore: Despite the Mangalore air crash and
the fire mishap at Carlton Towers here, the Department of
Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services does not have
separate standard operating procedures (SOPs) to deal
with different emergencies, a CAG report has revealed.

Except for Bangalore and Hubli, other cities in the state
did not have special equipment to manage fire-accidents in
high-rise buildings, according to the report for the year
ending March 31, 2011, tabled in the just-concluded
legislature session.

An Air India Express carrier from Dubai crashed at
Mangalore on May 22, 2010 killing 158 people, including the
crew members. In one of the major fire accidents in high-rise
buildings, nine people lost their lives and 57 others were
injured at Carlton Towers here on February 23, 2010.

"Even one year after the crash, the Department had
neither finalised a standing operating procedure for air crash
accidents nor conceived specialised training for search and
rescue operations in such situations", it said.

As the Department was identified during 2004 as the
`first responder` for all emergencies, it needed to function
as a multi-hazard response unit, but it was seen that it had
been following only a common SOP for all kinds of emergencies.

"As the nature of response required was different for
different emergencies, like fires in high-rise buildings,
floods, earthquakes, landslides, aircrash, etc., separate SOPs
were to be designed to ensure a quick and appropriate response
to the type of emergency," the CAG said.

"This was, however, not done, handicapping the Department
in providing the appropriate response during emergencies".

Vacancies in the post of operating staff aggregated 2,521
(40 per cent) as of December 2011 and the Department,
responsible for fire prevention, fire safety, fire fighting,
suppression besides disaster preparedness and management, had
not initiated the recruitment process despite government`s
approval in December 2009, due to non-finalisation of cadre
and recruitment rules.

The report said even the basic vehicles/equipment such as
jeeps, utility vehicles, water tenders and bouzers, and
portable pumps had not been procured to the extent possible.

Hazmat vans required for dealing with industrial disasters had
also not been procured.

Search and rescue units had not been established at the
metropolitan, district and taluk levels as planned. The value
of the property lost and saved as assessed by the Department
was not reliable as this was not professionally done.

According to the report, while obsolete wireless sets had
not been replaced, repeater facilities had not been
established in 18 of the total 30 districts. Ten out of 11
posts sanctioned for the communication wing remained vacant,
it was pointed out.

The CAG has recommended that the department should
periodically assess its performance so as to be in a position
to determine training, equipment and personnel needs, modify
and improve the programmes and make informed strategic
decisions about the level and type of service it should