The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Punish neglect, not accident

P. Pramanik,
Santoshpur Avenue.

A fee should be imposed only if it can be proved that the fire was caused due to negligence or was intentional. Otherwise, it is the moral responsibility of the government and the fire department to extinguish the blaze and check the loss of life and property.

Arpita Bhattacharya,

The fire department should definitely charge a fee for fighting blazes in business establishments. But it should be nominal enough not to be a burden on those who have already lost a lot in the fire. The fire departmentís coffers will also be filled.

Susanta Kumar Bedajna,
K.B. Sarani.

All business establishments should be charged an annual fee for fighting blazes. This will enable the fire department to arrange for inspections from time to time, to ensure that the regulations are being followed. Thus, the overburdened government could save on public expenses to some extent.

Madhumita Dutta,

The government is duty-bound to provide fire-fighting services for citizens, in residences or business establishments. Charging an extra fee by the fire department is not a good sign. We already pay a lot of taxes for various services. This fee will be an added burden on customers, for the businessmen will increase the price of their goods and commodities. Hence, a fee should not be charged.

Sandipan Dutta,

I feel that providing fire-fighting services is an obligation of the government. Since the fire department is a government organisation, fees should not be charged for fighting blazes from any citizen, concern, organisation or business establishment. The government collects enough taxes. Some tasks are the duty of a government, and fees for these cannot be charged separately.

W.N. Sagar,
S.R.Das Road.

Instead of a fee for fire-fighting services, the fire department should make it necessary for all establishments to get a fire licence, at a price. The license should be granted after a strict inspection, preferably by a competent non-government agency. Also, the personnel in the establishments should be trained, so that in the event of a small emergency, the fire brigade need not be called upon to assist them. All establishments should have the necessary requirements. Distributing manuals on preventive measures and how to fight the flames might help.

Udayan Banerjee,

Yes, the fire department may charge a reasonable fee. In West Bengal, the fire department is not equipped to fight blazes in big business establishments. Moreover, the department has not been modernised for a long time. Due to a government cash crunch, the fire brigade is also not getting the proper monetary help. So, if a reasonable fee is charged for fighting blazes in big business establishments, it will obviously help.

Dinabandhu Mukherjee,

The fire department, being a government organisation, should not charge any fee for fighting a blaze. Nobody can be held responsible for an accident, unless foul play is detected. Fighting a blaze to protect human lives and property is, after all, a social service. In case of a fire in a market place or in a multi-storeyed business centre, many stall-holders or shop-owners are affected. Recovery of fire-fighting fees proportionately from all such owners may pose a big problem. However, if it is found that fire-fighting arrangements in a business establishment are not adequate or do not conform to the rules, a penalty may be imposed.

Arun Debroy,

Considering the governmentís present financial condition, a state-run department like the fire brigade should charge a fee for fighting blazes, especially in business establishments. On the surface it may look odd, but is not really so. It is an emergency service, and business establishments should pay to avail of it. But the government should charge a reasonable fee.

Madhusree Gupta,
Anil Roy Road.

Thereís no harm if the fire department charges a fee from business houses. In fact, it is a very good idea. But the money must be spent on the brave men who fight fire and save the lives and properties of others. If this fee can better the lives of these firemen, even to a small extent, then it is a welcome move.

Saadia Sitwat,
Linton Street.

Yes, I think they should. The fire department is solely dependent on the government for its maintenance. So, it would not be unjustified in charging money from business establishments, who can surely spare a small amount for their own sake. This move could prove to be a welcome sign for the fire department, in terms of improving its efficiency.

Namita Dalmia,
Salt Lake.

The fire department should charge a fee to increase its own efficiency. The fee will enable them to get up to date on equipment and technology. However, the fee should be based on the quantum of work, loss due to fire and financial stature of the establishment.

Naren Sen,

The fire brigade, which falls under the state government, has the sole responsibility of fighting fires. The government is wrong in imposing a fire-fighting fee. All business establishments are supposed to get a fire licence. When a business unit that does not have one catches fire, it should be penalised through fines and an increase in the licence fee. But those that possess valid fire licences should not be made to pay fire-fighting charges.

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