The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is working towards recruiting more firefighters to help reduce the workload of those currently in the field who must contend with long shifts without overtime.
Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt said he assigned Deputy Governor Tavida Kamolvej to look into the issue of Bangkok firefighters working long, consecutive shifts without overtime. He also noted that the opening of more fire stations has put an added strain on manpower and so the BMA is trying to recruit more personnel, but the process has been difficult due to budget constraints.
The governor acknowledged that Bangkok lags behind other major cities in firefighting capabilities. He added that while new stations are being built to keep up with expanding residences and metropolitan areas, legislative challenges have hindered efforts to employ additional firefighters because the cost of wages among those employed by the BMA cannot surpass 40% of its overall budget.
According to Theerayut Phumsak, Director of the BMA’s Bureau of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, the number of stations and firefighters in Bangkok has fallen below standards which may affect the capital’s emergency response capabilities. Bangkok currently has 41 stations and 7-8 sub-stations, with 2,200 personnel working to ensure public safety.
The director explained that firefighters should be at the scene of a fire within eight minutes of being dispatched from their station. However, in practice, he said this was only possible in certain areas of the capital, and not during rush hour. He therefore advised the governor to establish at least 14 additional stations to ensure public safety.
Theerayut also urged the BMA to address the issue as quickly as possible, given that the bureau can only rely on firefighters working consecutive shifts under the current system. (NNT)