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Guwahati, Dec. 11: The State Fire Service Organisation (SFSO) will be renamed the Assam Fire and Emergency Services and made the nodal agency and first authority to respond to all kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made.
The state government will bring necessary amendments in the Assam Fire Service Act, 1985, for the purpose and the amended bill — The Assam Fire Services (Amendment) Bill, 2012 — will be taken up for consideration and passage in the ongoing winter session of the Assembly.
Following the amendments, the organisation will become the first respondent for carrying out relief and rescue operations in emergency situations like earthquake, landslides, flood and erosion, drought, biological and chemical mishaps, bomb explosions, major accidents and hostage situations, besides its primary work of fire-fighting.
According to an official source, the decision to rename the organisation was taken by the state government according to a directive from the Standing Fire Advisory Council of the Centre.
He said the decision to rename the fire service organisation was taken at a meeting of the director-generals and heads of fire services and secretaries of the states convened by the Union ministry of home affairs in New Delhi on January 7, 2003.
The amendment bill stipulates that the state government may appoint a person to be the director of the organisation, who shall be an officer not below the rank of inspector-general of police whereas in the earlier act, the qualification for the director’s post was an officer of the rank of deputy inspector-general.
“The amendment has been done to provide scope for posting senior officers of IGP and above rank for better functioning and administration of the organisation,” the source said.
The SFSO came into existence after the merger and taking over of the fire stations belonging to the municipal boards of Shillong and Silchar by the Assam government in 1956. The organisation was initially headed by an officer of the rank of superintendent of police, who was known as the state fire service adviser.
As part of its reorganisation plan and to make it capable to deal with all natural and man-made disasters, the SFSO has already raised the State Disaster Response Force, on the lines of the elite National Disaster Response Force of the Centre.
Initially, the state force had two battalions, each comprising 140 personnel and its personnel have received specialised training on how to respond to emergency situations like fire, floods, earthquakes and landslides. The personnel were trained at SFSO’s regional training centre in north Guwahati.