Harare emergency services in dire straits

HARARE - Harare City Council’s emergency services are in dire straits, with most of the vehicles grounded.

The health, housing and community services committee noted that “out of 19 fire engines, only 10 were on the road.”

“The other nine were broken down. Two service vehicles out of five were functional, three had broken down. Six ambulances were on the road out of 14 ambulances among others,” said the latest council minutes.

HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme said while most hydrants around Harare are working, the water shortage in the city was a problem.

Chideme said the fire department was not supposed leave its station to attend to an emergency without water, but sometimes the supply would only be sufficient for about 10 minutes into the extinguishing exercise.

“On arrival we use water in the fire tanker and within those 10 minutes, we should be connected to a water main which should provide us with a continuous flow of water for the fire-fighting process.

“However, when we get to a scene that water runs out before we are connected. So in the eyes of the public, they say the fire brigade has come with no water. In the past, when there was no water problems, people would not know what was happening because there will be a continuous fire-fighting process,” he said.

Chideme said apart from the lack of water, the department also has to deal with very few fire stations in Harare.

The spokesperson said currently, the city only operates from four stations namely the main station in Belvedere, Waterfalls, Greendale and Kuwadzana, a scenario that increases the emergency response time.

“Harare should have at least 10 to 15 fire stations dotted all over the city so that we can reduce the response time. The international standard response time to areas of high risk such as the heavy industry and central business district is five minutes.

“At the moment, we can make it in five minutes to the CBD but out of the city, the distance becomes greater since we do not have fire stations at strategic positions and the time becomes longer,” he said.


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