UK charity donates fire trucks and equipment to Bulawayo

The City of Bulawayo on Thursday received three fire trucks and equipment worth US$ 1 million from Operation Florian, a UK-based humanitarian organisation assisting fire and rescue service.

The donation has increased the city’s fleet from nine to 12 fire trucks. 

The fleet was handed over on Friday, although they were not yet on the ground due to transportation delays. 

The event also some students from the University of Lancashire and other trainees from the city getting their certificates. 

Speaking during the handover ceremony which was also attended by the Minister of State and Provincial Affairs Judith Ncube, the deputy Mayor Edwin Ndlovu who was standing in for Mayor David Coltart said the relationship with Operation Florian has improved the city’s response time, helped increase the fleet of fire and rescue equipment and have enabled Bulawayo to become one of the leading fire fighting services in the country. 

“We appreciate this relationship as it has ensured that our members of staff get the best training from various firefighters from the United Kingdom fire stations. The knowledge you have shared has equipped them to handle even the toughest emergencies and improved their capabilities,” he said. 

Councilor Ndlovu said the city’s team led by the acting chief fire officer have been undergoing a two-week intensive programme which covered several topics such as incident command, introduction to managing incidents, advanced community fire safety, international trauma, life support and advanced fire investigation among others.  

 “As always, the training has improved the skills of our firefighters and changed their outlook. This is particularly important as we recruited new firefighters recently who need knowledge, skills and standards in fire and rescue services. It is my hope, however, that we will have reduced flight skills so that we continue to grow the city’s firefighting skills.” 

Acknowledging Operation Florian’s broader impact, Ndlovu noted that various local authorities and companies across Zimbabwe have also benefited from similar trainings and these includes Hwange Local Board, Hwange Colliery, Zimbabwe Power Company-Hwange, Shurugwi Town Council, Masvingo City Council, Mutare City Council, Gweru City Council, City of Harare, Gwanda Municipality, Chegutu Municipality, Chipinge Town Council, Rusape Town Council, Victoria Falls city and Unki mine have also benefited from the trainings. 

“We appreciate the relationship and are very grateful for the partnership we have with Operation Florian,” said Ndlovu. 

Expressing gratitude, the city’s chamber secretary Sikhangele Zhou who was standing in for the Town Clerk Christopher Dube highlighted the significant support received, including firefighting equipment, uniforms, and ambulance resources. 

“They came to us when we were in dire need and now we can stand on our feet, we hope to continue to cement this bond that has been created over the years with the charity and continue with the trainings. For this year’s mission we have 21 members of the team that are visiting us, six of whom are students from the University of Central Lancashire We have included the students over the years on the mission to create a future generation that is collaborating,” she said. 

Despite improvements, Zhou acknowledged ongoing challenges in the ambulance service’s capacity and encouraged residents, especially those with medical aid, to consider utilizing private ambulance providers to alleviate strain on the city’s resources. 

“The ambulance side has also benefited immensely from the charity, it has received a lot of rescue equipment, learning materials and other consumables which will go a long way in improving service delivery. We can safely say we are now well equipped and trained fire and ambulance service, yes we still need more new ambulances but we can assure patients that the few ambulances that convey them are well equipped and cruise well trained,” she said. 

She added, “We remain overstretched in the ambulance services, as on an average day we have five to six ambulances on the run. There are however other ambulance service providers who are operating in the city which can be used by those who can afford them, I say so because our residents when we give them the numbers of alternative ambulance service providers they say they come to us because our services are more affordable than the other private players in the ambulance services, but we urge residents especially those with medical aid to use ambulance service providers so that we can all have an effective pre-hospital care service and have the limited resources of the city used by those who cannot afford. 

Operation Florian Project Manager, Anthony Peter Burscough underscored the organisation’s commitment to sustaining and expanding its firefighting training efforts, especially given recent departures of Bulawayo firefighters for roles abroad. 

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