Thrissur: The Kerala Fire and Rescue Services Academy here under the Department of Fire and Rescue Services is all set to script history on this Monday. And along with the academy, a group of 84 women will also walk into history, as they join the largest training batch of firewomen in the country. This is also the first batch of women ever recruited to the fire and rescue department in the state.

The firewomen were recruited to the department after the state government took a special interest in creating 100 new posts.

“84 women have been selected based on the result of the PSC examination and the performance in the physical and mental tests. They will be given six months training at the academy and then a six-month fire station attachment training, before allowing them to engage in rescue operations,” said Arun Bhaskar, director of the department's Civil Defence Academy.

It was four years back that the state government created 100 posts of fire and rescue officer-woman which is equivalent to the post of civil police officer (CPO) in police service. They will have a basic salary of Rs 27,000 per month. Once the training and one-year probation period are over, they will be eligible for all the other allowances. They are also eligible for promotion up to the rank of Fire station officer, which is equivalent to the post of a police sub-inspector.

Authorities said the majority of these women are graduates.

“The exact number of general and professional degree holders will be ascertained after the certificate verification processes on Monday, the first day of the training programme,” said a source from the Academy.

Authorities from the academy said that this is the first time in the country, such a large number of women are trained as fire and rescue personnel together at one go.

“The Maharashtra fire force has been the largest firewomen force currently, with 114 personnel. However, they were all trained in various batches. Also, almost all the major states have inducted women officers in the fire force. Though we are late to introduce the women firefighters, we have been able to bring in maximum numbers at one go itself,” Bhaskar added.

The initial plan by the authorities was to recruit 15 women each in Kozhikode, Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram and five each in other district headquarters out of 100 posts created. After basic training at the academy, they will be sent for station training at the respective stations. Then they will be assigned for rescue operations at various stations. Now, the department plans to notify the post vacancy of 16 officers and to fill the same at the earliest.

A senior fire officer, who is in charge of the new batch said that they have recruited a woman sub-inspector and six women constables from the Kerala police academy to train the newcomers.

 “We have also brought in six women home guards as hostel warden and assistants to provide the best possible facilities for the first batch,” the officer said.

Authorities said that there is no modification of change in the training modules for women. “They will be training under the same module prepared for men,” the officer added.

The one-year-long comprehensive training will include safe rescue in high-rise buildings using breathing apparatus, basic life support, fire protection, firefighting, industrial fire safety, mountain Rescue, underwater Rescue, flood rescue, self-rescue, proficiency in handling various chemical hazards, first-aid, smoky, dark room rescue, etc.

The training will be inaugurated by the Director General of Police (DGP) K Padmakumar IPS on September 4 at 11 am at Fire and Rescue Services Academy, Viyyur in Thrissur.

The department had mooted to increase the women's strength to one-third of total personnel in the fire and rescue force and this is considered to be the stepping-stone towards the vision.

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