Calling the fire fighters as the "the friend of worst time", Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said her government is working to make the Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD) into a topmost efficient service providing organisation.
"We are taking measures to transform the Fire Service and Civil Defence into the highest service providing organisation with complete ability," she said while opening the Fire Service and Civil Defence Week-2022.
The prime minister virtually joined the inaugural programme held at the Fire Service and Civil Defence Training Complex at Mirpur in the city from her official Ganabhaban residence in the capital.
She said her government has taken steps to make the fire service a time befitting force inducting modern equipment and fire fighting vehicles and equipping its personnel with proper training at home and abroad.
She stressed the need for making all the people aware from their childhood on how the fire breaks out and how to protect them from the blaze.
The prime minister asked all concerned to observe the week keeping three things in mind including making people's awareness about fire and ensuring their participation in dousing flames, increasing fire fighters' mental strength to strengthen the disaster prevention management system and increase ability to fight the disaster effectively.
She said the fire service personnel were found to extend help in every disaster including fire and launch capsize.
Her government has done a huge task for the overall development of the fire service aimed at increasing its ability and services, she added.
"I would like to say that it is a great task to rescue people (from being killed in fire) by risking lives. So, the fire fighters are known as "worst time friend" to the masses," she said.
The premier recalled with gratitude the supreme sacrifice of 30 firefighters including 13 fire personnel who were killed in the recent devastating blaze at BM Container Depot in Sitakunda and were announced as "Agni Beer" (Fire Hero) and prayed for the peace of their departed souls.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and Security Service Division Secretary Abdullah Al Masud Chowdhury spoke at the function as special guests while Director General of the Fire Service and Civil Defence Directorate Brigadier General Md Main Uddin gave the welcome address.
On behalf of the prime minister, the home minister handed over the Fire Service and Civil Defence Padak-2022 in four categories to 45 fire personnel and relatives of 13 fire fighters killed in Sitakunda depot fire.
The prime minister witnessed the force's parade and took the state salute.The firemen also gave salute to the prime minister wearing the most modern fire distinguishing dresses.
The force's personnel also staged various techniques on how to douse fire, rescue people and secure their own life using various world's most modern machineries that included remote control vehicles, the world's tallest turntable ladders vehicles having height of 68 metres.
Describing briefly the measures taken by her government for overall development of the fire service, Sheikh Hasina said the government has initiated to build "Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Fire Academy" aimed at increasing the ability of firemen.
"Once the academy is completed, it will be possible to impart world standard training to the fire service men from there," she said.
The government has already allocated five acre of land to establish divisional offices and training centres at each division while 10 acre of land was given at Purbachal in Dhaka as well, she said.
The prime minister said a total of 1184 fire service officers and employees have so far provided foreign training.
Sheikh Hasina said the number of fire stations was 204 when the Awami League assumed power for the second time in 2009 while the number was increased to 491 as 52 more stations would be set up in the next fiscal year.
The premier said her government had taken initiative to build fire stations at every upazila across the country after coming to power for the first time in 1996 and that initiative nears completion.
She said her government has taken steps to increase the manpower of the force up to 30,000 which is now 14,443 from 6175 alongside having a plan to introduce lifetime ration to the fire fighters.
The prime minister said they have already given risk allowance to the fire fighters adding that she had given Tk 20 crore to the welfare fund of the fire service employees and announced to give Tk 20 crore more.
She said they have purchased a huge number of high-powered modern world standard fire dousing and rescue equipment to enhance the capacity of the Fire Service and Civil Defence.
"We have already purchased 26 turntable ladders including the tallest one having a height of 68 metre. There was only one turntable ladder in 2009 to conduct rescue operation in the multi-storied building which was 43 metre," she said.
She also said they have already purchased five turntable ladders with 68 metre and instruction has been given to purchase 11 more in this fiscal year.
The prime minister said the fire service has been equipped with two remote control fire fighting vehicles while 24 rescue boats and 10 fire floats were purchased to strengthen operational capacity on water ways.
Mentioning that development is a continuous process, she said her government has a target to transform Bangladesh into a developed and prosperous country by 2041.
The prime minister said they are in hot pursuit to implement the Vision 2041 aimed at giving the countrymen an improved and beautiful life.
She said the pace of development has slowed down due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, adding that none can stop the indomitable pace of Bangladesh's advancement.
Amid the global crisis arisen out of the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war, the premier urged the fire men to bring every inch of fallow land on their office premises across the country under cultivation as Bangladesh has to never face the food crisis.