Various state disaster response forces (SDRFs) are required to be made more "professional" and their fire services need to be modernised to better manage and combat disasters, a top government official said Sunday.
P K Mishra, the additional principal secretary in the PMO, said this in his valedictory address at the end of a two-day annual conference organised here by the NDRF on capacity building of state disaster response forces in consultation with home guards, civil defence and fire services.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah had inaugurated the conference on Saturday.
Mishra said the country needs to continuously improve the response system to counter disasters and SDRFs, like the National Disaster Response Force, are vital tools for the purpose.
The NDRF has 12 battalions based across various states for quick response to any emergency, manmade or natural.
"The task of professionalisation of SDRFs is yet to be accomplished in most of the states. Although each state should develop the SDRF according to its requirements and available resources, there has to be some degree of standarisation in terms of minimum capacities, skills, tools and equipment in all the SDRFs," Mishra said.
He also expressed concern over the state of fire service establishments, who, he said, save the maximum number of lives as they are with the community day in and day out.
"They are an interface between the communities and the government. I applaud their courage and commitment," he said.
"Yet they remain woefully under-staffed and under-equipped in most of our states. We have to upgrade and modernise our fire services, increase their coverage to also include rural areas and improve their response time to serve communities everywhere."
The officer added that fire services need to be modernised and their personnel should be better trained. He remembered his days in the Gujarat government where firemen and officers were sent abroad for training.
"Our resources will always be limited but investment in fire services has to be an important priority," he said.
In the same breath, he added the civil defence and home guards personnel are "under-utilised" for disaster prevention and response and they should also be professionalised.
Talking about the issue of coordination between various agencies and stakeholders deployed during a disaster, Mishra said drills and standard operating procedures should be practised "over and over again."
"When we practice coordination in peace time, we stay coordinated in times of disasters," he said.
He urged disaster response practitioners to analyse the use of artificial intelligence, sensor technologies and robotics in their work area.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)