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Fire Services department recruits 300 `safety volunteers'

By Our Staff Reporter

CHENNAI, FEB. 12. About 300 persons have volunteered from the city to handle rescue work during fire or floods. The `safety volunteers' include five women who have been briefed on handling emergencies. The volunteers will be trained in emergency procedures that they can undertake before fire service personnel reach the venue.

Most of the time fire is controllable and can be easily put out, said M. Samidurai, Deputy Director (Northern region), Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services. Panic and lack of knowledge about fire control techniques lead to extensive damage, loss of property and sometimes life.

``Sometimes, fire can be put out by merely beating with a staff,'' he said. Such fires become unmanageable and lead to major damage because people have no experience in handling fires. The volunteers were recruited based on the liaison built by fire service personnel in their areas, he said.

S.K. Dogra, Director, Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services, said the aim was not only fire control but also rescue work during emergencies like earthquake, though ``unlike in rural areas, there are fires in Chennai everyday.''

Last year, the State Government set up a three-member commission to look into the outbreak of fire and its control measures. Mr. Dogra, who heads the commission, said the statements made by the heads of various departments were being examined. Issues are complicated, and congestion on roads and in residential areas, transport of combustible items, leakage of electricity because of poor quality wiring, could all result in fire. The findings of the commission will help in arriving at solutions that, he says, will have long-term implications.

Those interested in volunteering can log on to tn.nic.in/fireservice. The department also has an interactive discussion forum.

``We would like suggestions from anybody who can give us information on handling fire,'' Mr. Dogra said.

``For example, a chemical engineer could tell us about explosive chemicals and safe handling methods.''

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