New Delhi: Delhi Fire Service personnel inspect the area where a major fire broke out in a cloth shop in Chandni Chowk, Delhi on May 23, 2017. . Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Oct 6 : The Delhi Fire Service (DFS) is grappling with a severe staff crunch with over 32 per cent vacancies persisting despite new appointments made just a month back.

According to data accessed by IANS through the Right to Information (RTI) Act, of the 2,367 total sanctioned posts for firemen in DFS, 1,598 were filled in September, while 769 are vacant. Of the 1,598 newly appointed firemen, 500 are fresh recruits.

While the administrative control of Delhi Fire Service is with the city government, as per its website, the recruiting agencies for the department are the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board (DSSSB), said the RTI reply.

"Firemen are key staff of the Department. The training of the 500 new recruits has been completed and they have joined the Department," a senior fire official told IANS.

The DFS is also facing manpower crunch in the fire fighting staff section. Of the 3,127 posts in the fire fighting section, 913 are vacant. "Of the five sanctioned posts for Chief Fire Officer, three are vacant," according to the RTI reply.

The condition is no better in the Communication section. "A total of 65 posts for radio telephone operators are vacant against the sanctioned strength of 100. The two positions for Communication Officers and one for Wireless Officer are also lying vacant," the RTI reply added.

The DFS official said the department was doing its job with what it had and the available manforce had been distributed across 61 fire stations in Delhi. "There are ideally six persons on one vehicle. At present we operate with four. We have to send in more vehicles each time there's a big fire some where," the official added.

Delhi has witnessed a number of fire incidents in 2019, including a blaze in Karol Bagh in which 17 people were killed.

The DFS came into existence in 1942. Back then, it had 4 fire stations with 14 appliances and a total staff strength of 186.

(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at nivedita.singh@ians.in)

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