7 out of 8 Municipal Corporations Have No Chief Fire Officers

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7 out of 8 Municipal Corporations Have No Chief Fire Officers

| Updated: June 24, 2024 08:56

Morale of firefighters at all-time low, govt orders recruitment by July 15

A shocking piece of information has come to light in the wake of the Rajkot game zone tragedy. The firefighting force in Gujarat is facing a severe leadership crisis. Seven out of eight municipal corporations in Gujarat have no Chief Fire Officers!

Following the arrest of Ilesh Kher, the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) of Rajkot, in connection with the TRP Game Zone fire, seven of Gujarat’s eight major cities are now without full-time CFOs.

Both the Gujarat government and the urban local bodies have failed to fill positions in these emergency services. In response to the crisis, Principal Secretary Ashwini Kumar of the Urban Development and Urban Housing Department (UDUHD) has instructed all corporations to fill vacant posts, particularly in fire services, by July 15.

Lack of faith and low morale

However, firefighters and officers remain concerned about the lack of uniform recruitment rules, disparate educational qualifications, numerous allegations, and longstanding inquiries across fire services. 

Another concern is the lack of actual firefighting and administrative experience among current officers. This may further impact the morale and efficiency of Gujarat’s firefighting services. 

In Rajkot, both the CFO and Deputy CFO B J Theba, were arrested by the Crime Branch on June 22. With no sanctioned post for Divisional Fire Officers (DOs), station officer Hardik Gadhvi has been made in-charge Deputy CFO, leaving the top post vacant.

Kher was one of only two full-time CFOs in Gujarat. The other is K K Bishnoi, who heads the Jamnagar Fire and Emergency Services. He is the most experienced fire officer in Gujarat, having served in this role for over a decade. Jamnagar fire services are short of four station officers.
Ahmedabad CFO post vacant for 2 years

Ahmedabad, the state’s largest municipal corporation, has had its CFO post vacant for more than two years, with Deputy CFO Jayesh Khadia holding additional charge since March 2022. The Additional CFO post has been vacant since February 2022 when the previous officer retired, with Deputy CFO Mithun Mistry also holding additional charge.

In Gandhinagar, the state capital, the CFO post was approved only this year, and DO positions are expected to be sanctioned in the first standing committee meeting. Meanwhile, Kaizad Dastoor, a DO in Ahmedabad, has been holding additional charge since February 2022.

The longest CFO vacancy is in Bhavnagar, where the position has been unfilled since 2006. Pradyumansinh Jadeja, a Divisional Officer, was made in-charge CFO three months ago, but full-time appointments have been pending for 18 years despite three advertisements, the latest before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

In Junagadh, Dipakkumar Jani from Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation has been acting as CFO on deputation for the past two years, with multiple failed attempts to fill the post. New advertisements are expected soon.
Vadodara has had a vacant CFO post since 2014, filled only in an acting capacity. Deputy CFO Parth Brahmbhatt has been in charge since 2019. In Surat, Basant Pareek has been in-charge CFO since 2017, following the suspension of the previous CFO.

Also Read: Gujarat CM Greenlights Rs 399 Cr Proposal For Two New River Bridges In North Gujarat

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