21 November 2012

Zambia: Fire Safety for All

THE procurement of the K170 billion worth of fire-fighting equipment has given impetus to safety and other officers to forestall any calamity in airports and other vital installations.

Airports are delectable installations that require maximum security and safety at all times and should be replete with qualified personnel.

Equipping airports is timely, especially that the country has experienced fire outbreaks that have had devastating effects on enterprises and households.

Three days ago, an inferno swept through a Government complex in Kabwe which houses the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and Road Development Agency.

A few days before that, a furniture manufacturing factory, Decomore Investments Limited in Lusaka, was torched and property worth K3 billion destroyed while six shops at ZIMCO yard on Freedom Way in Lusaka were burnt earlier.

In Kabwe again, fire swept through eight flats in Highridge residential area where household goods were destroyed.

All these despairing incidents occurred this month.

Last month, more than 30 vehicles went up in flames at a private car park in Lusaka in Kanyama Township while reports of people dying in blazing infernos in houses in various parts of the country abound.

The numerous despondent incidents point to the fact that the country urgently requires modern fire-fighting equipment in all the councils in the country.

Therefore, the Government must mobilise more resources to equip councils countrywide with modern equipment, now that international airports have been provided with the modern facilities.

It is also important to upgrade the Fire Training School in Kabwe with modern facilities while the curriculum should include enhanced safety and fire-fighting techniques.

Fire hydrants must be rolled out in strategic locations and should have sufficient water for fire-fighting purposes.

Members of the public should be sensitised about safety and fire-fighting tips as in most cases carelessness and poor power installations have caused infernos in which lives and valuable property have been lost.

Yes, it is gratifying that the National Airports Corporation Limited received modern equipment to be distributed to different parts of the country.

The equipment included 12 titan medium fire fighting foam tenders, five titan major fire fighting foam tenders, nine trauma ambulances, four containers of assorted fire fighting and rescue equipment, 40 fire fighting uniforms as well as personal protective equipment.

Such equipment should also be procured for the Zambia Airforce and the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) while mining firms must equally re-stock their fire-fighting kit so that they are able to re-enforce the local authorities in calamities.

The work culture in Fire Brigades in the local authorities ought to improve if emergency services are to meet people's expectations.

Many a time, the Fire Brigades have not responded on time and this has led attracted outrage from members of the public.

The councils must conduct regular inspections in commercial and residential buildings to ensure they conform to safety regulations.

Certificate of Occupation must only be issued when the council is satisfied with the safety conditions in place.

Fire is useful, but destructive!

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