BMC turns to meditation camp to de-stress fire officials
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The sudden death of chief fire officer Uday Tatkare due to stress induced heart attack last month has served as a wake-up call for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The civic administration is now planning to send its senior fire officials on a 10-day Vipassana meditation course.
"The issue of high tension and stress faced by fire officials came to light after Tatkare's death. In a meeting which was held just days after his death, we decided to send all senior officials and firemen for a 10-day Vipassana course so that they can learn to deal with stress in their jobs," said S S Shinde, Joint Commissioner (Disaster Management). "In the first phase, about 25 senior fire officials will go for the course, following which the entire staff will be sent in batches," he said.
A senior official overlooking the process said, "We will send officials one by one for the course as we cannot afford to send all of them at the same time. Officials live with a lot of stress. Sometimes, we have to be on call round-the-clock and this takes a toll on our health."
According to a fireman, "With fire incidents on the rise, the job pressure has increased tremendously. Fire-fighting has become more difficult due to increase in highrises."
While the administration is hoping they can send all the officers for the course, it will be voluntary.
"Some officials were concerned about the long leave they will have to take for the meditation course but we assured them this will be covered under sick leave," said Shinde.
Tatkare, 57, suffered died of a heart attack last month when he was going back home from the civic headquarters in his car.
This was the second incident in the department's history. On October 20, 1999, Dr V V Rao, the then chief fire officer, had also suffered a cardiac arrest after attending a meeting at the civic headquarters and died on his way to hospital.
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