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HISTORY OF FIRE SERVICE

Organogram

            Odisha was a poor state and most of her inhabitants were living in thatched huts which were catching fire very easily during the dry season of the year. Very often the entire village were reduced to ashes by accidental fire and every year pitiable sights of house burning were to be seen in this State. This presented a great problem to the Government and a satisfactory remedy of it had not yet been found out. To combat the incidence of fire a small beginning was made in 1942 when the Fire Service was first established at Cuttack from the 1st March with a handful of staff consisting of 01 Sergeant Major, 01 Sub-Inspector ,02 Havildars and 11 Constable. In 1943 the Fire Adviser to Government of India visited Odisha to inspect the possibilities of fire fighting in the coastal regions and recommended modern methods and measures for important coastal towns. According to the report of the Fire Adviser, sanction was made by the Government of Odisha for formation of Fire Brigades in towns like Cuttack, Puri, Balsore, Bhadrak, Chhatrapur and Berhampur. The post of a Fire Officer was created from the 21st June 1943 and modern fire fighting implements were also purchased. By July 1944 trained personnel were sent to different districts and the staff by that time consisted of besides the Fire Officer and an Assistant Fire Officer, 05 Station Officers, 26 Havildars and 90 Firemen. The Bhadrak and Chhatrapur Fire Brigade were suspended on the 1st March 1945 and so only four Brigades continued in coastal region and their total strength on the 31st December 1945 was 01 Fire Officer, 06 Station Officers, 06 Assistant Station Officers, 25 Havildars and 85 Firemen. The Odisha Fire Service with the strength of staff was made a permanent establishment with effect from the 1st March 1946. On the 27th April 1946 a large fire occurred in Cuttack town in which two Firemen exhibited great skill and gallantry in rescuing a girl who was trapped inside smoke and fire and they were awarded the King’s Police and Fire Service Medal.

            In 1947 owing to the establishment of a Police Motor Transport Workshop at Cuttack the strength of the Fire Service was reduced by 03 mechanical personnel viz, 01 Station Officer, 01 Havildar and 01 Fireman. That year the staff of the Berhampur Brigade did appreciable work in fighting fire at Chikarpada near Berhampur and at the Sompeta railway Station yard and were rewarded for their efficiency. On the 13th Novemeber 1949 a fire broke out in Puri town when a girl of four was entrapped in burning house. She was very courageously rescued by the Station Officer and Leading Fireman of Puri Brigade.

            In 1950 a Sub-Fire Station was started at New Capital, Bhubaneswar with a staff of 01 Assistant Fire Officer, 03 Havildars and 10 Firemen recruited by corresponding reduction in the existing four Brigades. In 1954 a Fire Station was established at Sambalpur with a staff of 01 Station Officer, 01 Assistant Station Officer, 03 Driver Havildars, 02 Leading Fireman and 16 Firemen and in 1955 seven ‘C’ class Fire Stations were opened at Aska, Sonepur, Athagarh, Jeypore, Dhenkanal, Bhadrak, and Khurdha.

            The Fire Brigades were very often called for fighting serious fires in villages and due to unsatisfactory condition of the village roads some vehicles and appliances were badly damaged during 1953. In 1954 Government sanctioned Rs 1,15,200 for renovation of the Fire Service appliances and delivery hoses and some of the unserviceable equipments were replaced.

            As no arrangements had been made for protection of factories, the industrial areas of Odisha had to suffer heavy loss in casual out breaks of fire. In 1954 the Orient Paper Mill, Brajarajnagar had a heavy loss of raw materials due to fire accident and in 1955 serious fire broke out at the Engineering School, Cuttack, at the Government Press, and in a goods wagon at the Cuttack Railway Station. Several other fire accidents of serious nature also occurred this year, particularly at Sidheswar in Ganjam district and at Palasa in Andhra State. The Odisha Fire Brigade did creditable work in saving both Govt. and private properties during these occasions.

            In 1955 there were altogether 13 Fire Stations in Odisha. Two more Fire Stations were sanctioned in 1956 of which one started functioning at Baripada that yeat and the other was established at Parlakhemundi in 1957.The officers recruited for the new Fire Stations were given intensive courses of training . In 1956 the National Fire Service College was started at Nagpur and the Assistant Fire Officer and 01 Assistant Station Officer were deputed to the College for undergoing training in junior officers’ course and elementary course respectively. The Fire Service personnel rendered useful services during the great flood of 1956. They pumped out water from various residential quarters, as well as from the streets of Cuttack during the heavy rains. The National Fire service College, Nagpur opened special course for Police Officers in 1958 and two Superintendents of Police, as well as, the Fire Officer of Odisha were deputed to attend the course. Fire Prevention weeks are being observed by the Fire Service year after year when they demonstrate firefighting methods and make propaganda for prevention of fire through literary and other cultural agencies with a view to create mass consciousness against the danger of fire all over the state.