The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has refuted allegations that it dispatched fire tenders without pre-response water to attend to a house fire incident in Morningside suburb last week that claimed the lives of three people.
In its defence, the local authority said it received the call late and when the Fire Brigade arrived at the scene the fire had already consumed the house and claimed the lives of the three occupants.
Residents in the suburb were up in arms with the local authority claiming the fire tenders that attended to the scene were empty.
This sparked an outrage with the Minister of State for Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Judith Ncube calling for heads to roll at the local authority over the incident.
Addressing a press conference, Acting Chamber Secretary Spekiwa Mugiya said the fire brigade responded to the emergency despite received the call late.
“The City of Bulawayo notes that there was a delay in reporting the fire to Bulawayo Fire and
Emergency Services. The person who reported at the Famona Fire Station advised that he had
first received a call from a friend around 20:58 hours that she saw a house in flames when she
was driving. She later called the person again at 21:10 hours to say that the roof had collapsed
which forced him to drive from Morningside Shopping Centre to the Famona Fire Station to
report the fire,” said Mugiya.
“Neighbours stated that, efforts to contact the Emergency Services were made but
they could not go through because they were using cell phones but did not prefix with the
Bulawayo code 02922.”
Mugiya also dispelled reports that the fire tenders attended to the scene without pre-response water.
“The City would like to clarify and dispel the misinformation that the Fire Brigade went to the scene without water. All Water Tender and Emergency Tenders are equipped with pre response water containers with a carrying capacity of 1850 litres and a water carrier of 9000 litres. No vehicles are dispatched to attend to a scene without pre-response water. The 9000 litres water carrier acts as a backup while the appointed fire fighters locate the fire hydrants which are in all residential and commercial areas in the City.
“Fire hydrants are placed between 50 metres to 100metres apart for the purposes responding to fire calls. An emergency tender on its own can cater for small fires while hydrants have the additional necessary pressure to switch off any form of fire. The claims that the fire brigade thus came without water are not true as it is standard that a hydrant should be located and used for purposes of responding to any fire call.”
The Town Clerk Christopher Dube also urged social media users to desist from spreading messages that cause alarm and despondency.
“We call upon opinion leaders to be very careful whenever they make such statements especially regarding to the issues of fire brigade because some of the statements are inflammatory and they can cause despondency and anarchy,” said Dube.
“I call upon on all those opinion leaders, be it political leaders, be it civic leaders and be it social media administrators to report responsible to these issues, seek for information before you can communicate something which is inaccurate.”
Meanwhile, BCC Senior Public Relations Officer Nesisa Mpofu said council will intensify their publicity campaign for the new fire brigade contact details.
“I think what is confusing people is new the code so we are also issuing out the number with the new code, we are going to put it also in our water bills because people used to know the previous number without the new code,” said Mpofu.