Slum women of Delhi to be trained in fighting fires

According to Delhi government data, the city has 860 slums which are home to around 10 lakh people. In the first seven months of this year, these slums have been witness to 76 incidents of fire

Delhi slum women
The slum-dwellers who complete their training will be given a ‘Main bhi firefighter hoon’ (I too am a firefighter) certificate

Women living in Delhi’s slums will be trained to assist the city’s fire department in fighting fires and spread awareness about steps that need to be taken to prevent such tragedies, officials said on Thursday.

According to Delhi government data, the city has 860 slums which are home to around 10 lakh people. In the first seven months of this year, these slums have been witness to 76 incidents of fire, Delhi Fire Service data accessed by PTI showed.

Hence, the Delhi Fire Service has come up with a plan to impart training to women in these over-populated slums in coordination with the NGO Mehar Charitable Society so that they can take primary preventive measures to control the fire.

Delhi Fire Service Director Atul Garg said, “We have signed Memoranda of Understanding with three organisations to create awareness among people about the preventive measures to be taken in case of a fire so that the public knows how to control a blaze at its initial stage using the available resources.

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“This will help in preventing a fire from spreading further and can also reduce the damage or loss of life,” he said.

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The slum-dwellers who complete their training will be given a ‘Main bhi firefighter hoon’ (I too am a firefighter) certificate. These women will know how to act in case of a fire and control a blaze at the initial stage with available resources, Garg said.

“We will keep a record of details of the trained women who will assist the fire department by giving initial details about the type of blaze and will make way for the fire tenders to reach the spots through the narrow and congested lanes of the slums,” he added.

“This will help women gain confidence and also help us cover every cluster in Delhi,” Garg added.

Officials said training is being imparted especially for the women because even though they go out for work, they are the ones who spent a large amount of time in their homes compared to men.

Advocate Harita Mehta, the president and founder of Mehar Charitable Society, which has been working toward women empowerment for the past 18 years, said that with the recent major fire in the national capital in which 27 people lost their lives, she felt the need to educate women in fighting a fire.

“The real firefighters are women who battle fire at least two-three times a day in their houses. In such a tragedy, it is mainly the women who are in danger because they are at home for the longest time. Even in factories and commercial spaces, we have women working,” Mehta said.

She said the aim is to impart training in every slum cluster in the national capital. This will be a continuous process and gradually the NGO, in coordination with the fire department, will reach out to the Residential Welfare Associations.

“Also, we chose slum clusters because these are densely populated with narrow lanes. Those living in slums use small LPG cylinders while the tangled electric wires and loose connections increase the chances of a short-circuit triggering a fire,” Mehta said.

The fire-fighting drive was conducted in Nehru Camp and Churiya Mohalla and the response was impressive.

“With resources available at home, be it sand, water or fire extinguisher, we can stop a fire from spreading further. Fire extinguishers will be provided to women in slum clusters by the NGO,” Mehta said.

Besides the NGO, the MoUs have also been signed with the BSES and the IP University.

According to the fire department, under the MoU with the IP University, staffers from hospitals, hotels and restaurants will be given theoretical knowledge about firefighting while the practical classes will be held by the fire department.

The BSES will also train the firefighters in detecting socket points that could have triggered a fire.

(With inputs from agencies)

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