KARACHI: “The fire department is on the verge of collapse and any adverse situation in the city could lead to a disaster,” Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) fire department officials disclosed.12 fire stations out of 21 in the city, housing 38 fire engines, had been closed down due to poor performance of department officials and non-repairing of machinery and fire engines. In addition, three snorkels at Central Fire Station were also out of order. Only 6 fire engines had been left to tackle emergencies out of a total of 48 25-year-old fire engines. 4 fire engines were donated by Japan in proper working condition.In this connection, Chief Fire Officer Tahseen Ahmad said, “I am made non-functional as a powerful lobby in the department is active and negating my directives.” He said a basic pay scale 12 (BPS-12) officer— posted as a BPS-17 station officer by KMC higher authorities— had been controlling activities of the fire stations.” Ahmad revealed that the unduly promoted officer was holding the position of fire department’s accountant as well, and was made coordinator to director fire department and KMC civil defence office. Due to his incompetence, the officer had failed to run the department affairs smoothly, he said.“However, Karachi mayor has been informed by officials of fire department, and by me, to take notice of the situation” he added. He also informed that the repair contractor had not been paid his last six months’ repair bills and had stopped repairing fire engines for the department.Ahmad said there were around 155 such employees, who had been serving the fire department while simultaneously serving in other wings of KMC.The BPS-17 officer commenting on the situation said he was posted by higher authorities of KMC and any questions regarding his appointment should be directed to KMC authorities.On the other hand, fire department director claimed the department was functioning as usual and he had been working hard to ensure its smooth running.According to reports, Karachi needs at least 230 fire engines, but the department’s current state of affairs does not suggest it is remotely equipped to properly tackle fire emergencies in the city.Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar has called a meeting of the fire department today to discuss reports of poor performance and unjustifiably promoted officials running the department, officials of mayor secretariat informed.The closed fire stations in Karachi include: Emergency Centre Nazimabad, Orangi, Shah Faisal Colony, Baldia Town, Manzoor Colony, Cattle Colony Malir, Gulshan-e-Iqbal and Civic Centre, Central, Sadder, Lyari, Sindh Industrial Trading Estate and Korangi.Published in Daily Times, November 3rd 2017.