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Taniya Sanyal, born and brought up in Kolkata, made history last year —she became the first woman firefighter to be appointed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). Till 2018, AAI went for only males as its firefighters, but the rules were altered last year and Sanyal, who had always wanted to pursue a challenging and heroic path, became the lone woman candidate to stand amidst the male prowess. “The moment I saw the advertisement for this position in a newspaper, I grabbed the opportunity,” says the 27-year-old firefighter, who now trains both men and a handful of women aspiring to be firefighters with the AAI.


When asked about the fitness and mental alertness levels one need to possess for the job, Sanyal says, “Mental alertness is of utmost importance. Airport fire service is not only about firefighting, but also about rescue operations on aircraft. As per the International Civil Aviation Organisationrules, our response time is 138 seconds. So, you can imagine the kind of mental alertness we need.”


For staying fit and fine, Sanyal prefers to do free hand exercises over training with rigorous equipment in a gym. In any case, the intense physical actions at workplace help her stay in the desired shape. She elaborates, “My day starts at six every morning. I conduct physical training sessions, parades, technical learning classes, and teach trainees to handle fire equipment such as hoses, ladders, and other firefighting paraphernalia.”


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