Indian airports get their first woman firefighter

The last all-male bastion of Indian aviation has fallen with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) appointing its first ever woman firefighter. The state-run authority currently has 3,310 firefighters at its airports, as having fire service is a mandatory condition for planes to land anywhere. Now, Kolkata girl Taniya Sanyal will soon join their ranks after completing training that she is undergoing.

Considered a profession only for men, AAI till recently did not have recruitment norms for women firefighters. “We were facing a shortage of firefighters due to expansion and new airports coming up. We brought in contemporary rules and decided to recruit women in this field which required criteria for physical standards. I had done similar rule changes in Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation for firefighters. We got hold of them and then set the standards for recruiting women firefighters. This is the first time a woman has joined our ranks in this field and it will continue now,” AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra, who brought about this change,said.

The physical standards for male firefighters were a minimum height of about 1.6m and minimum weight 50 kg. The minimum weight for women firefighters was set at 40 kg and height norms were also reduced. While relaxing the physical norms, the work description for woman firefighters has been kept exactly the same. Taniya Sanyal, who has done Masters in Botany, has been appointed for AAI’s eastern region airports that include Kolkata, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Raipur, Gaya and Ranchi. Once she completes her training at Kolkata firefighting centre, she will be working at one of these airports.