A recent Parliamentary Committee report concludes that Zambia's current fire fighting capacity is very poor. Other than the aviation industry, which appears well catered for in terms of fire appliances, in accordance with ICAO regulations, most local fire authorities in Zambia do not have fire tenders that match the existing risk categories.
The recommended number of fire tenders to an incident is 4 with water capacity of around 5, 000 to 10, 000 litres, a turntable ladder to provide access in case of high rise buildings and a rescue fire tender carrying all types of rescue equipment, including an ambulance. At the moment, no single fire brigade in Zambia has these appliances. The country continues to rely on donated old fire fighting vehicles, most of which are incompatible with the terrain in most of the communities in Zambia.
To make matters worse, most fire brigades in the country are understaffed. In the absence of part time supporting staff, coupled with lack of communication equipment, it is very difficult to mobilise reinforcement. A full shift at Lusaka City Fire Brigade comprises 12 fire fighters. With a population of 3 million, the rescue ratio of fire fighters to that of the public in Lusaka was 1 to 250,000. A terrible situation to be in.
Even water is a challenge. It currently the sole responsibility of the water utility companies to provide free adequate water supply for fire fighting purposes. This water supply has to be available round the clock. Sadly, most fire hydrants have been vandalised and those that are available cannot not produce the required pressure and flow rate.
Question : What needs to be done to have proper fire fighting services in Zambia? Share your comments below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist
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