This one was completely unexpected. City’s senior fire officers are not qualified enough to be fire safety officers. Quite astonishingly, 10 senior officers have actually failed in the fire safety officers’ exams. These include three retired Chief Fire Officers.

The exams were held recently for appointment of fire officers, especially in wake of renewal of fire NOCs for buildings. The exams were taken after the officers were given training by the state government and yet they flunked it. These failed officers have now made representations to the Gujarat State Fire Prevention Service (GSFPS) and Gujarat Institute of Disaster Management (GIDM) to make amendments in the passing criteria.

In December 2020, the state government announced the setting up of a new system for renewal of fire NOC.Accordingly, a special system was to be put in place for renewal of fire NOC for structures higher than 15 metres including residential buildings, schools, colleges, hospitals and industrial units. It is now mandatory for any new building to have fire NOC before seeking Building Use Permission (BUP). This NOC is given by a fire officer from the local fire brigade.

Under the new system, fire safety officers have to be appointed under the provisions of Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Act 2013.The officer is required to check properties for fire safety norms while renewing the fire NOC. The system was brought after a thorough study of fire safety systems in many states and countries.

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The GSFPS and GIDM have categorised fire officers for building inspection as General officers, advanced officers and specialists. No experience is required to be a general fire safety officer. A candidate is given training and can be selected after he passes the exam. For advanced fire safety officers, the minimum experience required is five years. The highest post is the specialist fire safety officer for which 10 years’ experience is mandatory and the written exam for it is also much tougher. Till now, three batches have passed the exams.

The results of the exams taken in December 2021 were declared recently. Many retired officers who worked as Chief Fire Officers or divisional officers appeared for the exam, but 10 of them failed to clear it.

Former Chief Fire Officer of Rajkot, R K Maheshwari, said The state government conducted exams for specialist fire officers after giving training to the officials. Ten officers who retired from top posts failed in these exams. The passing criterion was 60 marks but we failed in the written exams. There were six papers.

The tougher threshold has not gone down well with the officers. We have worked as fire officers for many years and have considerable experience. The criteria set for passing the written exam is not proper. We have made representations about this to the authorities, Maheshwari said. A senior officer said on condition of anonymity said, Ten officers of the rank of Chief Fire Officers have failed in specialist officer exams.

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