Heavy rain has left rivers and streams in the district swelling, but shortage of rescue equipment such as motor-fitted dinghy and scuba diving sets is crippling the preparedness of the fire and rescue squads attached to nine fire stations in Kozhikode. Though the government has sanctioned the supply of the accessories, the products are yet to reach the stations.
Fire and Rescue Services Department sources say only one motor-fitted dinghy is available at present to meet the demands of all the nine fire stations in the district. Similarly, there are only five scuba diving sets available when the department requires at least 25 sets. Though 10 scuba diving sets were earlier supplied to the rescue wing, nine were damaged due to poor quality.
The worst-hit are the fire stations in rural areas, where several villages face flood and landslip threats. In case of emergencies, the fire and rescue squads have to depend on stations in neighbouring districts to coordinate rescue activities. They are also forced to seek the support of National Disaster Response Force to handle rain-related tragedies.
Fire and rescue officials say the Mukkom fire station, responsible for rescue operations in 12 panchayats and the Mukkom municipality, is heavily dependent on rescue devices from neighbouring districts. A majority of landslip-prone areas and flooded regions come under the limits of the Mukkom station. Some of the emergency vehicles at the station are also damaged.
A leader of the Kerala Fire Service Association says all nine fire stations in Kozhikode have well-trained personnel to handle rescue operations. But, the lack of basic accessories continues to be a big challenge, he adds.
District Fire Officer T. Rejeesh says the department has completed the purchase of the required accessories based on the lists submitted. “We hope the additional equipment needed for water rescue operations will reach the district soon after clearing the State-level formalities,” he adds.
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