Nagaland Fire & Emergency Services along with other Fire Services across the country observes “ Fire Service Week” every year commencing from 14th to 20th April. Every year on 14th of April is observed as “Martyrs Day” to pay homage to those brave Fire Personnel who lost their precious lives while performing their duty.
The significance of “Fire Service Week” dates back to the fateful yet historical day on 14th April 1944 at 16:40 Hr, at Bombay Dockyard popularly known as the “Great Bombay Dock Fire”. It was on this day that a massive and devastating fire broke out on a ship, the S.S. “Fort Stikene” which was carrying 1,200 tons of explosives, cotton bales and oil drums. Consequently, 336 persons died and 1,040 were injured including 66 Fire Personnel in the explosions. There was enormous fire across 100 acres, Fire Engines disappeared from the face of earth, Steel Buildings collapsed into tangled masses, Bulk grain store continued to burn and smoulder for four weeks and 14 ships were also subsequently set ablaze by the explosion. The tremendous earth tremor caused by the explosion were felt even at 1000 miles away in Shimla. It took three weeks to clear the debris and corpses. As dawn of the 15th April approached, what was left of the Fireman were to arrest the wrought and havoc that devastated the area. The authorities in power ordered about the ‘Fire Lane’ to be dynamited through the center of the city and everything on the dock side to be concede to the flames. It was an unbearable pain added to the injuries already caused by the explosion to the Fireman. However, the Fireman stood to their stead with no reliefs and eventually the fire never crossed the ‘Lane’.
Fireman along with Military and Naval personnel extinguished the fires. Mr. Norman Coombs, the Chief Fire Officer of the Bombay Fire Brigade was also badly burnt in the fire and was normally awarded the “Bar to the King’s of Police and Fire Service Medal” for his gallantry, a distinction normally awarded posthumously. Consequent upon, this day is observed nation-wide in recognition of the 66th gallant Officers and Fireman of the Bombay Fire Brigade who laid their lives in the cause of safety, welfare and prosperity of the citizens and the community at large of the city in fighting the great fire. ‘Death or Glory’ was the motto of these gallant men.
This day is also set aside for mass awareness campaign on fire hazards and safety measures by conducting public education programme through various media methods such as Fire Safety and Evacuation Drills, Public lectures, Demonstration, Mock Drills etc. across the country.
Fire is a good servant, but a bad master. Fire when gets out of control can cause great damage to both life and property when it acts as our master. However, so long as we have control over it, it serves us well.
Fire always starts at incipient stage. Therefore, Fire Safety should always be given serious consideration it deserve, otherwise a catastrophic fire breaks out and takes its toll. One should take precautionary measures and see that it does not become a catastrophe. The negligence of one often leads to sufferings of several.
As the old saying goes “Prevention is better than cure”; Fire prevention is better than fire fighting. One should consider the usual causes of fire on how to eliminate or to minimize the risk involved.
It is thus, for the interest of the general public, the following fire exigencies are highlighted for information, safety & compliance:
- Call & Inform Fire & Emergency Services immediately as and when fire breaks out. Do not panic
- Do not misuse Fire Service Telephone numbers. It is a punishable offence
- Give right & precise information.
- Use appropriate Fire Extinguishers at initial stage to contain fire.
- Do not pour water on Oil & Electric fire. Use appropriate Extinguishers
- Inform Power Department to cut-off power line in the locality to avoid further catastrophes.
- Give way to Fire Tenders to pass unobstructed for timely execution.
- Locate the Fire Incident site - Show & Guide Fire Personnel the shortest possible route.
- Locate sources & supply water at the vicinity of the fire incident.
- Do not disturb/ drag Fire Delivery Hose while Fire Personnel are combating fire.
- Install proper Fire Extinguishers/Fire Alarms/Smoke Detectors/Fire Hydrants/Sprinkler system etc.
- Maintain small water reserve tank – so to tackle fire before Fire Brigade arrive.
- Kitchen fire, LPGs, Candles, Lamps etc.. should be properly extinguished when not in use.
- Use certified & standard electrical appliances viz wires, plugs, fuse, switches, sockets etc.
- Practice family evacuation drill/plans.
- Store water at home to meet fire emergencies (for fire of woods, paper, textiles etc.).
- Do not burn rubbish when strong wind is blowing (Also, always take it out to some distance from the dwellings).