Women firefighters soon in century-old male bastion
For the first time in the 123 years since it was established, the Mumbai Fire Brigade will recruit women firefighters. The force, a BMC department that now has 2,500 firemen, had been established by the British in 1887.
The department does employ women but all are in the clerical department. Tamil Nadu's Fire Service, which in 2003 became the first in the country to induct women fire officers, is now headed by a woman officer.
Mayor Shraddha Jadhav said the presence of female firefighters will help make it easier for women trapped in fires; they are often uncomfortable when they are carried by firemen. "There are women in the defence services. We have women in our own security forces too. We support this move as it will reinforce the idea of equality of the sexes," she said.
The department's chief fire officer, Uday Tatkare, said the decision has been welcomed and approved by municipal commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya. "We will employ women as firefighters in our next recruitment drive. We can start by giving them coordination activities in the control room, a stepping stone for every fire officer," said Tatkare.
Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said women willing to join will be trained and absorbed within the next one year. "There is a hierarchy, from a fireman to a sub-officer in the lower rungs and from assistant station officer to the chief fire officer in the higher rungs. In the initial stages, we will employ them in the lower rungs and gradually after training they can be promoted to officer level."