Few women for fire brigade vacancies

The Mumbai Fire Brigade is finding it difficult to attract more women for the vacant posts this year, too. The initiative, launched last year, had seen 13 entries for 47 vacant posts. Ultimately, 11 women qualifed.

According to senior fire official, a whopping 1,150 men applied for 91 posts for male firefighters, while only 50 women applied for 38 vacant posts for women this year. Of these, only six women qualifed.

"The response has been slow due to lack of awareness. But we are seeing an increasing interest compared to last year. At present, the first two tests running and jumping are a big challenge," said Deputy Chief Fire Officer, S H Nesrikar.

The civic administration decided to recruit women for firefighting posts last year, following the state's decision to have 33 per cent reservation for women in the service sector. The BMC, for the first time, inducted women firefighters in the 123-year-old male bastion.

A senior fire official said, "Though the physical test are proving to be difficult, it is crucial that women pass them. The 800-m run tests their stamina, energy and physical capacity to handle difficult situations during fire incidents."

The women who have qualified will now have to undergo a six-month training, after which they will be put through a round of duties in the fire brigade, before being appointed as as fire-fighters.

These women start with manning fire station control rooms, and can be assigned to monitor the mobile control vans. Batches can be also trained and assigned full-fledged roles in rescue operations, according to a senior official.

While entry of women in fire brigade is being lauded, some senior officials feel that it is difficult to handle firefighting with female colleagues. "There is a sense of awkwardness and discomfort as we need to be careful near them. They typically come from conservative backgrounds and are not comfortable working in close proximity with men," said a senior fire official.

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