BIRATNAGAR: Fire fighting capabilities of Biratnagar Sub-Metropolis are severely limited, thanks to the dilapidated condition of the available fire engines. Only three out of seven fire engines are operational now.

Tara Niroula, section officer at the Sub-Metropolis, said service was far beyond expectations as even the fire engines that are working are in poor condition.

Earlier, fire engines of the city had been providing services to Morang, Sunsari, Jhapa, Siraha, and Saptari districts and also to some of the Indian cities like Purnia and Arariya. However, the service has been limited now.

Niroula claimed that they could not maintain the fire engines due to lack of budget. The sub-metropolitan city has been spending Rs 10 million for the operation and management of the fire engines annually. The fire engines had been kept useless as parts of the engines were not available in the market. The fire engines were brought from Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom.

Staffers at the sub-metropolitan office admitted that they could not provide adequate service due to shortage of fire engines. However, the office had written to the Ministry of Local Development and the District Development Committee (DDC) to avail them budget for buying fire engines.

Gopal Prasad Regmi, executive officer, there, said, "We have demanded for one more fire engine as the existing engines are insufficient." Regmi added, "We have urged the DDC office to maintain the expenses of the fire brigade jointly as most of the cases of fire are in VDCs rather than in the city areas.''

Different donor agencies had provided fire engines to the office earlier. Regmi added,'' We are in search of similar donor agencies as well.''