New procedure for local levels to operate, manage fire engines

Kathmandu, February 25

The government has developed Fire Engine Management and Operation Procedure-2020, for local levels to enable them to provide reliable service to citizens in fighting fires in their areas.

As per the procedure, rural municipalities and municipalities may acquire fire engines from the federal government, provincial government, donor agencies or other organisations/persons.

The procedure requires local levels to keep the fire engine on standby round the clock. “The local level shall make arrangement of sending the fire engine to the incident site within two minutes of information about a fire,” it reads. Disaster Management Section of concerned local level shall operate the fire engine, according the procedure. Office of village/municipal executive shall provide necessary budget for regular maintenance of fire engine. “Each local level shall have a team of at least seven persons for management and operation of the fire engine. They include a leader, two drivers and four firemen,” reads the procedure. Office of village/municipal executive shall make provision of accident insurance of up to Rs one million for firefighters and provide safety gears for them. The procedure stipulates a provision of a five-member steering committee led by the chief of rural municipality/municipality for the operation of fire engine in systematic and reliable manner. According to the latest report of the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, only 122 local levels have fire engines in operational state. Despite the legal provision requiring each municipality to have at least one fire engine, most of the local levels seem to depend on bare hands to fight fire incidents. It is mandatory for a municipality to have a fire engine, excavator, roller, dozer and garbage truck.

Fire hazards are responsible for major damage of lives and property each year. In 2019, fire incidents claimed as many as 74 lives across the country, said National Emergency Operation Centre under the Ministry of Home Affairs. As per the Nepal Disaster Report-2019, the country recorded 12,694 incidents of fire, which killed 1,755 persons and injured 1,176 others during the period from 1971 to 2018. Incidents of fires affected a total of 265,962 families and damaged 90,044 houses in the period.

Major cause of fire include poor handling of candles and burning cigarette butts, short circuit, cooking gas leakage and gas cylinder or stove explosion. Urban fire incidents are on the rise because of unplanned settlement and excessive use of plastic materials, according to NEOC. On an average, Metropolitan Police Office or Juddha Barun Yantra gets two calls a day to respond to fire incidents in valley districts. Many more cases go unreported as people themselves extinguish small fires before they spread.