Awareness Key in Combating Fire Incidents- Aqib Hussain Mir, Assistant Director Fire and Emergency Services Jammu and Kashmir

Awareness key in combating fire incidents- Aqib Hussain Mir, Assistant Director Fire & Emergency Services Department Jammu and Kashmir
Aqib Hussain Mir, Assistant Director  Fire & Emergency Services Department Jammu and Kashmir in an exclusive interview with the News Kashmir talks to Editor in Chief Farzana Mumtaz.
How do you see Rising Fire Incidents in Kashmir?
You have to Understand that the valley of Kashmir is different from rest parts of the country, as the period of winter is prolonged here and people use heating Gadgets of LPG and Electricity . Sometimes due to careless attitude in using same unfortunately fire erupts. We used to have in old times the houses fully made of wood and thus quite vulnerable to fire, but now we have many houses made of concrete thus less vulnerable. Still, there are good number of houses that  use Wood in Panelling and Flooring and are thus vulnerable to fires.
Since the esteemed Director has taken over in the year 2020 the awareness programmes by the department have increased manifold as we believe awareness is main key to combat fires.
We have due to awareness seen such fires wherein people after attending our programmes had swiftly doused fires . We have also in our awareness programmes visited Hospitals,  Banks and other important establishments.
We need to bear in mind that every fire starts from tiny spark so initial response is much pivotal.
The need of the hour is that we have proper staircases in houses so as to escape fire and need of well dimensioned exit points .
Every household should keep the basic fire extinguishers and Fire Hose Reels.
What is your take on some deaths also during Fire incidents?
The deaths are definitely a tragic aspect. We at the Fire & Emergency Services, J&K have conducted scores of awareness programmes in Srinagar and other districts ,with our focus on grassroots and thus focusing on school children . The challenge is that we as Department still do not have enforcing power and for residential houses wherein most of tragic fires occur no NOC is mandatory from our side,  we just Give NOC on Demand. The people should also have basic fire extinguishing equipment at home.
How do you combat challenges of fire especially in highly congested Downtown Srinagar, any changes in fire combating vehicles in such areas ?
The Srinagar District is highly vulnerable and in it the Downtown Srinagar is more vulnerable,  as in Downtown Srinagar the fire gaps between houses is very very less and congested lanes are everywhere. This makes fire dousing job highly difficult, to add to it the wrong parking of vehicles in Downtown Srinagar and wrong loading of construction materials makes both health and fire emergency a challenging task in Downtown Srinagar.
Now , we are placing fire tenders at distance and using many hose Reels to douse fire, but then there is a limit at which Hose Reels can be placed from Fire extinguisher.
Is Srinagar the most affected in terms of fire incidents in Kashmir valley?
Yes due to high house density and population density makes the Srinagar district very vulnerable to fires along with Anantnag and Sopore. Take for example Ganderbal the house density is low and there the fire incidents are low.
Does Department have modern equipment to deal with fires in Kashmir?
The Fire and Emergency Services Department has well sophisticated Hydraulic Platforms to tackle fires in high rise buildings as well. Basically,  you need to understand some equipments are specific for fires and in case of petrol pump fires water tenders are of no use and in that case we use foam tenders.  We have all the modern equipments to tackle major fires.
Do our big hospitals have fire combating measures in place?
The major hospitals in Kashmir have complete fire audits done and also the private hospitals because until then registration is not done if an institution does not undergo fire audit.
The majority hospitals also have fire extinguishing equipment in place if God forbid fire takes place.
Recommended fire gaps for residential houses?
The ideal gap for residential houses is 15 to 18 feet but at least houses should keep 10 to 12 feet gap in case to thwart major fires from spreading.