Firefighters in the statewill undergo scuba diving lessons and special underwater rescue skills to effectively carry out rescue operations in water bodies, said chief minister Naveen Patnaik, while attending the National Fire Service Week ceremony where he dedicated the waterman-ship training institute (WTI) at Ramachandi in Puri to the state.
"Our personnel will be given training in advanced swimming and diving skills which will equip them to render expert assistance in search and rescue missions during accidents and natural calamities, involving floods," said DG (fire and emergency services) Binoy Kumar Behera.
The WTI will also impart skills in areas such as canoeing, yachting and handling boats in rough seas. Officials believe the WTI will increase security in sensitive coastal areas and boost patrolling along the coast.
An assistant fire officer, Shailendu Mohanty, drowned in the Mahanadi at Banki, on May 3, 2012, while learning underwater training skills. Mohanty, a good swimmer, was part of a 20-member fire service personnel team being trained in the use of underwater breathing apparatus procured from Sweden to carry out rescue operations.
To ensure prompt response from fire brigade personnel in remote locations, the state government has decided to set up 45 more fire stations in different districts this year. At present, there are 290 fire stations in the state. With the addition of 45 more fire stations to the existing 290, Odisha will have the highest number of fire stations in the country, Naveen said.
The chief minister lauded the efforts of the fire service wing during the rescue operation after Deogarh bus accident, which killed 27 people on Sunday. Fire service personnel were among the first to reach the spot, Naveen said.