“One Fire and Emergency Service” for each state, “fire tax” on land and buildings, “fund for fire prevention and life safety” and a fee for deployment of the fire service beyond a state’s limits. These are some of the key suggestions in the Union Home Ministry’s draft Bill on fire safety, which has been sent to state governments for feedback.
Titled ‘Maintenance of a fire and emergency services for the state’, the draft Bill states that the state government can issue a notification to “declare fire and emergency service to be an essential service to the community that may remain in force for six months and can be extended from time to time by a like notification”. While seeking comments from the state governments, the Home Ministry has proposed to “levy a fire tax on lands and buildings on which property tax by whatever name called is levied by any local authority in that area”.
The draft Bill also states that “the fire tax shall be levied in the form of a surcharge on the property tax at such rate in terms of percentage of such property tax as the Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, determine from time to time”. However, it says that no fee shall be levied on any buildings vested under the control of the government.
The Bill also proposes to charge a “fee” on deployment of fire services beyond the limits of the State. “Where members of the fire and emergency service are sent beyond the limits of any area in order to extinguish a fire in the neighborhood of such limits on the request of any State Government or local body or fire authority shall be liable to pay such fee as may be prescribed by the Government from time to time in this behalf,” it states.
A fund to be known as “Fire Prevention and Life Safety Fund” for meeting any extraordinary expenditure related to firefighting and emergency management has also been proposed. For better and effective management, the draft also suggests that the state government may divide territories into fire zones, divisions and subdivisions.