Out of 109 fire stations in the country’s districts, only 15 are close to a modernised status, which justifies the move by the Government to equip the stations with the newly-acquired 42 fire engines, Local Government Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga has said.
Meanwhile, Zambia National Fire Service Training School (ZNFSTS) commandant Yonah Mwale has backed the rationale to purchase the fire engines, indicating that increased fire and road traffic accidents in various parts of the country will be handled effectively and professionally.
Mr Malupenga said the state of fire stations across the country was not in tandem with the changing infrastructure, which required firefighting teams to be fully equipped with modern tools such as the acquired fire engines.
He also said the Local Government Service Commission and the fire training institute were working closely to train more firefighters to close the gap.
“The minister has indicated plans that we have to modernise the training school and equip it properly so that we can invest in modern technology in terms of training. We have to train more people if we have to employ more, it starts from there. We can only train up to a point looking at the facilities we have with its limitations, so those are the issues we are trying to focus on,” Mr Malupenga said.
The ZNFSTS commandant, Mr Mwale said the new equipment would help firefighters respond effectively to emergencies such as fires and traffic accidents.
“We have a serious upswing involving fires and road accidents. The new engines have tools which we didn’t have in our old engines, hence the way we will respond to accidents will be different and very effective,” Mr Mwale said.
He said over the years, the firefighters were working in a difficult environment, but of outdated equipment in most cases.
Mr Mwale said even far-flung or less developed towns required the modern engines, because of differences in the levels of accidents, which could now be well addressed.
He criticised the political mileage which some opposition leaders were trying to gain from the purchase of the engines, but that they were free to report to relevant authorities.
Mr Mwale said fire experts were largely influential in the process of purchasing the new engines, because they understood the geographical set-up in the country and other requisites that went with firefighting.
He said instead of condemning the procurement of the fire tenders, people should begin to appreciate the fact that the country had been thrown into fires over the last six months, thereby subjecting fire fighters to panic and sleepless nights.
Mr Mwale said increased capacity of water in the fire engines (7,000 liters) and the 1,000 quantity of foam, was a major boost to firefighting in the country.