BCC moots satellite fire stations

Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is planning to establish two satellite fire stations to improve efficiency in response to emergencies in far-flung suburbs, a council official has stated. 

BCC Chamber Secretary, Sikhangele Zhou, made these remarks at a ceremony where Monarch (Treger Products) was handing over rehabilitation works it has done at Famona fire station.

The work was an appreciation gesture from Monarch to the fire station which put out a fire that may have destroyed their property sometime last year.

Zhou said Cowdray Park and Waterford are some of the suburbs that are far from the already established stations hence the need to have satellite stations.

“The stipulated time to respond to fires is 10 minutes. So if we get a fire alert in any of these areas, even with our sirens on, it is difficult to make it there in record time. Our road networks are really bad so navigating our way there would affect the standard time,” Zhou said. 

“We have four fire stations in the city, here at Famona, Northend, Nkulumane and Mpopoma. So if we’re to get a fire report in Waterford, our trucks won’t make it in record time from Famona. Neither can we respond to a fire outbreak in Cowdray Park in time from Mpopoma. The roads are really bad to make it there in time.”

Zhou also explained that another challenge faced by the department is shortage of water owing to the current water shedding situation.

“The city does not have enough water. Often times we hear people saying when the firefighters go to the ground they won’t be having enough water. Those trucks that we have can only ferry a limited amount of water at a time. Ideally, the water in the trucks is supposed to last the team for a minute while they connect to water hydrants,” she said.

“However, we are faced with water shortages as a city. If the team comes and at that time there is no water in your area the hydrants would not be having water either. They would have to make use of bowsers, which are also limited. We thus call out to other companies that have bowser services to come to our rescue.”

Bulawayo Chief Fire Officer, Linos Phiri, said the department is also faced with the challenge of shortage of staff, as most of their skilled workers leave the country in search of greener pastures.

“We lost about 30 skilled employees, which is a significant number. We trained about 50 more firefighters. The training takes about two years. Out of those 50, a significant number left as well. So now we made a call to have 60 more,” Phiri said. 

“This is not a challenge facing Bulawayo only, even Harare is equally affected. We hope that after training the 60 we called for, they will at least stay.”

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