Bulawayo to get new fire station

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BULAWAYO City Council is working on plans to build a fifth fire station in Cowdray Park to cater for the sprawling high-density suburb as a way of easing pressure on current stations.

NQOBILE BHEBHE
CHIEF REPORTER

Bulawayo chief fire officer Richard Peterson told Southern Eye yesterday during a tour of Famona Fire Station that plans to build the new station were already in place.

“This year we are working on getting a stand in Cowdray Park and have the plan drawn and approved,” he said.

“We need a fire station to service the Cowdray Park, Luveve and Lobengula areas, among others, to reduce reaction time.”

The other fire stations in the city are located in Famona, North End, Nkulumane and Nketa.

“However, we won’t wait to go the whole process. We have already identified a site at Luveve clinic to put up a temporary base,” Peterson said.

“We will seek authority from council to recruit personnel for the station.”

Peterson dispelled the notion that fire fighters take long to respond to emergency calls or that they sometimes responded with no water.

“We respond to each emergency as swiftly as possible. Ideally it should be within three minutes and anything beyond that, the officers are charged,” he said.

“For instance, on Sunday, we responded to the Kensington Flats fire in the city within that timeframe and not 25 minutes as said by the tenants.

“Again, people say fire fighters respond to situations without water. That is not true.

“All tenders are always fully loaded with water and there are back-up teams.”

A family lost all property when fire gutted their apartment situated at 3rd Avenue and George Silundika Street.

According to the tenant Victor Mutuyana, the fire started from an adjacent flat due to a suspected electrical fault and spread to his apartment.

Mutuyana alleged that the fire brigade arrived after about 25 minutes and the crew refused to listen to him as he tried to direct them to the source of the fire.

However, the Kensington Flats caretaker Tauywa Murwira yesterday said: “It’s not true that the fire started at the opposite flat and spread to the other section.

“It’s the opposite. It started at his (Mutuyana) place and a portion of the adjacent flat was also burnt. He (Mutuyana) did not tell you the real facts.”

The fire service department is currently undergoing training conducted by British firefighters under Operation Florian.

The delegation of 14 firefighters is travelling with eight students from the University of Central Lancashire.

In 2013, the organisation donated four fire engines and equipment worth more than $1 million.

The Operation Florian delegation also took part in the “Bulawayo at 120 Years” celebrations on Sunday. Operation Florian was established as a charity in 1995 in the United Kingdom to promote the protection of life among communities in need worldwide by the provision of equipment and training to improve firefighting and rescue capabilities.