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Sunday, 27 March 2011

Municipal Reporter
The vehicle that attends to fuel fires is the only one reported to be in good condition. The city has only three operational ambulances out of a fleet of 25. Most of the ambulances without wheels are parked at the fire station, indicating the decay that has crept into the system. The last purchase of ambulances was in 2002. Mr Mugava said the average lifespan of an ambulance, especially for a busy city like Harare, should be four years. Investigations last year revealed that most buildings in the city had no fire extinguishers.

Water in fire hose reels in most buildings was used up during the many times the city ran dry.  Tenants that had fire extinguishers admitted the equipment had not been serviced for a long time. In-house fire extinguishers are the first line of defence before the arrival of trained firefighters. However, in Harare both the first line of defence and the trained firefighters are not adequately equipped to deal with fires. Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo whose ministry initiated the deal with the Japanese Firefighters Association in 2006 for the donation of 50 fire tenders to local authorities said to date 22 councils have benefited.

“The support has been in the form of ambulances and fire tenders,” he said. On the current equipment, Harare and Bulawayo benefited. Minister Chombo said Harare and Bulawayo have aged equipment in need of replacement. “This is one of the major reasons why our brigades are sometimes blamed for failing to attend to major accidents,” he said. Minister Chombo said while appreciating donor support, it was incumbent on councils to “mainstream civil protection matters in their medium to long-term plans”.

Mr Morita, who shed tears while reading his prepared speech because of the devastating earthquake in his country, said although the vehicles were not brand new, they were still “in a very serviceable condition”. He thanked Minister Chombo and the people of Zimbabwe for the “kind messages of support and sympathy that have been pouring into my embassy since the catastrophic earthquake and monster Tsunami”.

He said Japan was facing the biggest and most difficult challenge since the end of World War II. Minister Chombo had earlier expressed his condolences to the Japanese ambassador over the loss of human lives. Clr Charles Nyatsuro who stood in for Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda thanked the people of Japan for the assistance.
HARARE City Council’s emergency response equipment is obsolete, casting doubt on the city’s readiness to respond to major catastrophes.
Speaking on the sidelines of a handover ceremony of a fire tender by the Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Koichi Morita last week, chief fire officer Mr Savious Mugava narrated the sad story at the city fire station.
“The reality is that although we are managing. We are not adequately equipped because 95 percent of our equipment has outlived its lifespan. The last purchase of fire tenders was in 1990,” he said.
This means the city’s fire tenders are 21-years-old and manufacturers could have phased out some of them.
And the city would not be able to find spare parts for the vehicles.
Mr Mugava said Harare was a fairly busy area with fires of different magnitudes being reported on a daily basis in addition to road traffic emergencies, some of which require the attendance of fire fighters.
The city has 16 fire tenders, but only five are working on a limited basis. Out of the five special vehicles that attend to major fires in high rise buildings, only one is working.
Spare parts for the other four have been purchased with engineers expected in the country in May.