In the last 40 years, this voluntary fire-fighter has fought over 100 fires, awarded with Padma Shri

Bipin Ganatra

Bipin Ganatra is not a professional fire brigade official, yet for the last 40 years he has been there in almost every fire accident in Kolkata. He may not wear a cape but this 60 year old firefighter is not less than a superhero for all! For his irreplaceable devotion while rescuing people from fire, he has been awarded Padma Shri this year .

Bipin Ganatra was only 12 when he lost his elder brother Narendra to a freak fire on Diwali night. It was then he decided to save the lives of the people from fire. After his brother’s death, Bipin could not continue his studies. Bipin Ganatra may not be a professional fire-fighter, but he has fought over 100 fires in the densely populated city of Kolkata and has saved many lives from the blazing flames.

My elder brother Narender Ganatra was severely burnt at our house in Kolkata 40 years ago. We rushed him to a hospital but he died after battling his wounds for a month. It was Diwali night and I was just a 12-year-old kid then. The whole incident is still etched in my memory. I still see my brother in every person stuck in a fire. My efforts are directed towards bringing peace to the soul of my dead brother, said Bipin Ganatra.

Bipin Ganatra

Bipin lives alone; his main sources of information about any occurrence of fire are local news channels and radio news. There have been instances when he has reached the accident site much before the Fire Brigade itself.

Bipin was offered a job by the fire official, but he declined since he wanted to carry out on his own. In 2009, for his selfless service, the fire department honoured Bipin Ganatra with a volunteer’s metallic ID card – a very rare award. Bipin was even featured in Unsung Indians, a BBC series on people working to improve the lives of others.