History Of West Bengal Fire & Emergency Service
Fire Service in West Bengal started functioning long back in the name and style of Calcutta Fire Brigade. During the last World war the necessity for augmenting the strength of Calcutta Fire Brigade and also for providing fire safety in other city areas of undivided Bengal was keenly felt. In 1772, Calcutta became the capital of British India, and the first Governor General Warren Hastings moved all important offices from Murshidabad to Calcutta. In 1780 whole Calcutta was surrounded by Basti Huts and Jute Industries, several devastating fire took place and about thousands of Basti Huts were gutted in fire. Not only that about hundreds of human beings were sacrificed their life in fire. On that period Government published a gazette that use of combustible articles are restricted for making houses. In 1865 the first five fire engines in Calcutta — three horse-drawn and two man-driven — were imported from Britain after the fire services came under Calcutta Corporation in 1871. The fire engines, which had to be winded, have given the Bengali name- ‘damkal’ In 1822 Police Commission of British Government adopt an basic idea of Fire Service. In 1911 the fire brigade was motorized and by the end of 1912 three motor pumps and one motor turn-table ladder were commissioned. Till 1912, Calcutta was the capital of India. The Calcutta Fire Brigade was strengthened by the addition of an auxiliary fire service, the cost of which was born entirely by Govt., and a parallel organization named The Bengal Fire Service was created by Govt., under which fire stations were established in densely populated and industrial towns of Bengal. The movement of the fire engines spread up and firefighting capacity was enhanced manifold. The fire stations at Watgunge, Bhowanipore and Palmer’s bridge were abolished before the Second World War: undivided Bengal had only two city fire brigades — Calcutta Fire Brigade and Darjeeling Fire Brigade. Westbrook had turned Calcutta Fire Brigade into an organization that never slept, was never off-duty and was ready to move at a second’s notice. After cessation of last world war and partition of Bengal, Govt. Decided to maintain a permanent State Fire Service covering the whole of West Bengal. Pursuant to that decision, The West Bengal Fire Service Act. 1950 was enacted and the employees of the Calcutta Fire Brigade, the auxiliary Fire Service and the Bengal Fire Service were absorbed in the newly created West Bengal Fire Services under the administrative control of Local Self Government department, now known as the Municipal affairs and Urban Development Department. Chinese aggression in 1962 led to the establishment of large number of fire stations and the appointment of consequential supervisory staffs. Since then the West Bengal Fire Service expanded gradually. In the year 2000 Director General from the I.P.S. Cadre of Police Department was introduced in West Bengal Fire Service. In 2001 the Fire Service Department has been segregated from the Municipal Affairs Department and was established as a newly created Department of Fire Services under an independent Ministry. Thus West Bengal became the first State in the country to have a separate Ministry for Fire Services and this is the oldest Fire Service in India. The West Bengal Fire Services is renamed as West Bengal Fire & Emergency Services in the year 2005.
With the efforts of the present State Government, rapid growth of Fire Service started in all respect. All the Fire stations equipped with several nos. of fire appliances, pumps, aerial ladder, modern gears & equipment’s etc. Fire Service was uplifted with various training courses. Number of fire station is expanding gradually. At present West Bengal Fire & Emergency Services have been separated with district wise which increased Ten Division to Eighteen Division. Now at present the total number of fire station is 125 Nos. another 20 Nos. of Fire Station will be started functioning very shortly, not only that about 30 nos. of proposed new fire station are in progress. Several old Fire Station Building is renovated with new one. The Fire Service has planned to set up a worled class training center as ‘Fire Service Academy’ at Kalyani, Nadia in very near future and set-up of Fire Service Administrative Building at Rajarhat is in progress.
Attempts were taken of e-service for Issuance of Fire Service Recommendation / Fire Safety Certificate and Fire License which will be introduced by this Department in a sort while simultaneously modernization of Communication Wing has been introduced through electrical & electronics media to ensure the rapid and efficient turnouts and their records. Several standby units has been set-up at densely populated & big market areas for quick response to meet any sorts of disaster in peak hours.