New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Ministry Boosts Fire Fighting Fleet

The challenge of the Fire Department to protect the community and prevent the destruction of property through fire, will be better facilitated through the use of three state-or-the-art Mercedes Benz fire fighting and emergency vehicles which boost the existing fleet of machines at the Windhoek Fire Department.

The three vehicles were donated to the Windhoek Fire Department recently by the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, who made sure a total of 17 local authorities were on the receiving end of 20 fire fighting vehicles.

According to Florian Hangula-Kadedu (Chief Control Officer: Disaster Management, Ministry of Regional Local Government Housing andRural Development), the hand-over of fire brigade units was done in three phases. The third phase where the last 20 units of 59 fire fighting vehicles costing in total N$118.5-million was received by 17 local the previous week.

The first handover of 23 units was done in 2010 and the second handover of 16 units was in 2011. The tender was awarded to a fire fighting Technology company in South SA who converted numerous vehicles into fully operational fire fighting and rescue units.

Woema paid a visit to the Windhoek Fire Department's headquarters last Friday, where the three gleaming new fire engine red machines were parked in their enormous enclosed hanger. They join the existing fleet of fire rescue vehicles, which is growing at an impressive rate.

The new additions comprise three totally different category of fire fighting vehicles, both in size and function, but are all being used for the same purpose to fight fires and save lives. All are converted from standard Mercedes Benz model ranges, into purpose vehicles through the addition of a multitude of different specification features.

FLAGSHIP

The flagship is indeed the enormous Axor water carrier stretching approximately 10-metres long, and fitted with a huge water tank onto the long flat bed. It has a capacity to pump 10,000 litres of water and 2,000 litres of foam, making this ideal to use in situations where the blaze is enormous and massive amounts of water are needed, such as large buildings or office blocks.

The new Merc Sprinter Fire and Rescue Vehicle which carries water as well as rescue equipment, will be put to good use, as it is multi tasks in everyday situations where the jaws of life are just as necessary as the fire extinction. It carries 600 litres of water and 200 litres of foam, and is powered by a V6 diesel engine.

Some of the many features added to this vehicle is the aluminium superstructure enabling a locker design capable of housing all equipment, such a special lighting, jaws of life, rescue tools, two hose reels mounted on the vehicle, siren and emergency lights to mention some.

The third addition to the stable is a SCBA Unit (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus), and will serve as a life line for the fire fighters. Its function is to fill the breathing cylinders of our brave firemen whilst they are struggling to fight a blaze, and will accompany fire fighting teams on big fire incidents.

"We are very grateful to the Ministry for these fire fighting vehicles, which will assist us in the prevention of destruction of lives and property as well as to save lives," said Jeffrey Mayanga (Senior Station Officer Windhoek Fire Department).

"As we move into the dry winter months after an exceptionally bad rainy season, we are expecting an outbreak of bush fires, and with the Windhoek expanding our boarders have also been extended, so the call outs are becoming further and further away.

"Because the city is increasing we can travel up 50 kilometres out of Windhoek to reach a call out, and being able to get to the scene on time can mean the difference of life and death and preventing the fire spreading.

"These new vehicles will certainly partner us in becoming more efficient as a fire fighting department, and having the right vehicles which can operate under all situations it is vital for us to be fully functional , " he added. "

Meanwhile Hangula-Kadedu said that the Ministry have tried to support emergency services for the local authorities, to improve their capacity to save life and reduce damage to property through fire, as well as increase investors confidence to invest in their local authority.

"Our aim is to respond to accidents and the growing fire problems of informal settlements by providing vehicles that can function efficiently in these environments.

"A representative from each fire department collected their vehicles and all members were given special training to operate the new machines," she said.

The 17 local authorities who received the latest fire fighting and rescue units included, Otjiwarongo, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Windhoek, Grootfontein, Tsumeb, Ondangwa, Ongwadiva, Oshakati, Omaruru, Okahandja, Gobabis, Luderitz, Oranjemund, Keetmanshoop, Katima Mulilo, and Otjinene.

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