Few weeks ago, J&K Fire and Emergency Services organized several programmes as part of Fire Services Week. Fire Services Week is observed to make public aware of fire prevention and precautionary measures. At the same time people also get to know the firefighting force, an institution that is more than 125 years old. Established in year 1893 as Srinagar Fire Brigade, it is one of the oldest as well as largest fire service institutions in the region. Yet, it has changed little over the years, for good as well as bad reasons. With the rapid urbanization in and around cities, firefighting has become a daunting task. Taking the cases of fire incidents in the last few years – properties worth crores has been gutted in different major and minor fires in the city. Unplanned urbanization has exposed Srinagar to many civic problems, including the vulnerability to fire accidents. In some areas of the city, houses are stacked so close together that every time a fire breaks out, there is every chance of it spreading far and wide causing maximum damage. The congestion of houses poses a major hurdle to the fire tenders in dousing the flames. This helplessness has been evident in some of the most congested localities of Srinagar. While the affected people keep accusing fire and emergency services department of inaction, officials blame people for negligence. Far-flung areas have also witnessed increase in fire incidents over the years especially in winter months when the area mostly remains cut off from the rest of the region. The fire management has also been affected by the deficiencies pertaining to fire stations, fire fighting, rescue vehicles and manpower. In the department, renamed as Fire & Emergency Services Department in 2004, the nature of duties has increased substantially - from rescue and fire fighting to disaster management. Search and rescue from earthquakes, flash floods, land/mud slides, avalanches, catastrophes and conflagrations, road and rail accidents and Air crashes, under-water rescue besides manmade disasters like war, air raids, bomb blasts are added challenges for Fire & Emergency Services. There is a dire need to upgrade the training programme for Fire Service personnel to equip them to deal with the challenges. The department has to strengthen and improve the services with Hi-tech Disaster Management equipment and training of manpower to deal with such exigencies. But so far, instead of taking a holistic view of the problems facing effective fire management, the state government’s response has at best been relief-centric.