The Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Dr. P.K. Mishra, today addressed the gathering at the 15th Formation Day of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), at New Delhi.
In his address, Dr. Mishra recalled his association with NDMA in its early days, and expressed satisfaction that NDMA’s efforts and initiatives towards disaster management are being recognized widely. He appreciated NDMA for its role in forming a consensus with multiple partners and stakeholders to ensure that disaster risk reduction is integrated into our development activities at all levels.
Dr. P.K. Mishra described the launch of the guidelines on Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction as a milestone in our path to resilience. He said this initiative delivers on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas’, and strives to make our risk reduction initiatives more inclusive by addressing the needs of one of the most vulnerable sections of our society.He observed that risk reduction is an ever-evolving process, and urged NDMA to continuously work to further improve its processes and interventions.
Talking about “Fire Safety”, the theme for this year’s Formation Day, he said that the subject has been in global focus recently, with incidents such as the devastating fire in the Amazon forests, and the Surat fire tragedy. In particular, he emphasized the need for fire risk mitigation planning in the urban areas. He said different kinds of fire – residential, commercial, rural, urban, forest fire, and industrial fire – all pose different challenges and dealing with each one of them requires specific strategies. He stressed on the need for adequate training and the right protective gear for firefighters.
The Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister asserted that all critical infrastructure, shopping complexes, commercial establishments and government buildings should be regularly audited for fire safety, and necessary preventive measures should be put in place on priority.
He said that this is especially relevant for major cities, where adhering to municipal laws can prevent incidents like the one at Surat, where fire at a coaching centre in a commercial complex killed many students.
Dr. P.K. Mishra appreciated the efforts of the city of Mumbai, in incorporating the latest technology and equipment for fire prevention, mitigation and response. This includes drones, hand-held laser infra-red cameras, and remote-controlled robots equipped with thermal imaging cameras for firefighting operations. He urged other cities to emulate the Mumbai model.
Noting that response times are very critical in case of fire accidents, he said that mobile fire stations, as developed in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Gurgaon, are an innovative way of reducing the response time. He said local administrations should collaborate with fire services and come up with solutions best-suited to their local contexts to increase the efficiency of response.
Dr. P.K. Mishra drew attention to the fact that in the western world, fire services form the first line of response to any disaster or emergency. He said we should consider upgrading our fire services in a manner that firefighters become the first responders in case of any disaster or emergency, after the affected community itself. Regular mock drills coupled with massive awareness campaigns at the community level are needed to make fire safety everyone’s agenda, he added.
He called upon NDMA to revisit and update its National Guidelines on Fire Services, released in 2012.
In conclusion, he reiterated that fire safety is a concern for everyone and that we need to strive towards “Fire Safety for all.”
The gathering included senior officials of the NDMA, Union and State Governments, and representatives from State Disaster Management Authorities and Fire Services.