THE Fire and Rescue Services in the country plans a comprehensive inspection of all major buildings in order to determine whether they meet criteria for fire and disaster control, short of which they will be closed down.
This follows the eruption of a fire at the 20-storey Pension Fund Towers located at the Garden Avenue and Ohio Street intersection in Dar es Salaam. The inferno destroyed property whose value has not been established.
Speaking to reporters, the Commissioner General of Fire and Rescue Services, Mr Pius Nyambacha, said that following the incident, which also destroyed the control room, they expect to launch intensive inspection in all major buildings.
"The law clearly states that any building apartment which has eight floors onwards must have modern fire equipment and fire detectors and we have given an ultimatum of 18 months to install the devices and we should blame ourselves for not taking action against this weakness early enough", said Nyambacha.
He said that the fire broke out on the 17th floor of the building occupied by PPF but due to poor infrastructure with more than 10 fire fighting trucks from various organizations and companies failed to provide services because they could not reach the affected floor.
He said most trucks are capable of reaching a height of only a few apartment floors while the vehicles with a height of 56 metres with a capacity of providing services up to the 40th floor cost 7bn/- . The government is still contemplating the purchase of such trucks. Five people got trapped in the building but were helped by the rescue team move to the safe 20th floor where they remained until the fire was extinguished.
Speaking at the scene, the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Mr Saidi Mecky Sadiki, said that the fire was successfully extinguished at around 10am. Two of the five people who were trapped but got rescued them are helping police in investigation, in a quest to identify the source of the fire.
He blamed developers who erect tall buildings that actually beautify the city's skyline but do not install disaster control options including fire evacuation systems to save lives. "But we also ask them to develop the culture of regular fire inspection and provide certification that meets the standards for buildings. And those who do not fulfill these requirements will have their buildings closed," he said.
According to eyewitnesses, the fire was detected by members of staff within the building at about 6:00 a.m. The employees called in the Fire Brigade and police immediately. Unfortunately, despite the presence of a number of fire fighters and trucks in attendance, they were unable to put out the fire due to the malfunctioning of the firefighting system.
The fire tenders were also not ideal for the task. Dar es Salaam Regional Police Commander Suleiman Kova advised owners of high-rise buildings and other establishments accommodated in such buildings to provide training to their employees on how to deal with fires.