The Kitwe Fire Brigade is a team of dedicated men and women who operate from their base located at the junction of Independence Avenue and Kuomboka Drive.
Kitwe online visited the Kitwe Fire Brigade in order to gain a greater insight into the responsibility that the job entails. We interviewed the station master, Mr. Banda, to see what he had to say.
Q. When was the Kitwe fire service station established?
A. The Kitwe fire brigade was established in 1957.
Q. What are the other functions of the Kitwe fire service station apart from extinguishing fires?
A. The first function of the fire brigade is to save life. The second function is to save property from destruction by fire and the third function is to provide humanitarian aid.
Q. Where are the firemen trained?
A. The fire men are trained in Kabwe at the National Fire Services School.
Q. What kind of training do they go through?
A. Fire fighters are trained in the following areas: Physical training, the science of fire and general administration. Our way of administration is semi-military. We are actually a semi- military organization. Our functional leadership style is not about democratic authority. We work on commands. Our way of instruction in the chain of command is through given orders.
Q. What are the most dangerous encounters that firemen go through in their course of duty?
A. First of all the firemen have to take all safety precautions before embarking on any assignment.
However the most challenging encounters are those that relate to fighting infernos. Firstly, some fires are at high temperatures to which our firemen get exposed. Secondly, there is exposure to high toxic fumes in fighting industrial fires. Thirdly, there is exposure to radiation in some fires. Lastly, firemen also get exposed to the dangers of animal attacks in marine assignments. We get exposed to the dangers of crocodiles, hippos and marine snakes.
Q. What has been the most difficult assignment for the Kitwe fire service station, what was the most difficult call to duty to date?
A. The most difficult assignment for the Kitwe fire brigade to date, as I’m told since I was not employed by then, is the inferno that gutted the B.P depot in 1966.The assignment was so overwhelming that they had to call for reinforcement from all the fire brigade stations on the Copperbelt. It is a tradition that once a fire fighting assignment is very challenging, other external assistance is summoned to help.
Q. Has there been an assignment which you have failed to undertake?
A. No. Not to my knowledge. We always ensure that we adequately deal with any problem that comes our way, as we go for an assignment well prepared. We may fail an assignment only on account of lack of equipment. It is possible that while we are putting out a fire at some place, some other eventuality may occur somewhere else simultaneously, which may require our attention. There may be delay in reaching out to those that need help. In such cases we may be called upon to ask for help from other fire fighting stations, to help us take care of the other assignment. The other issue which may cause us to fail an assignment is when there is no access road to a place where there is an occurrence. However such are extremely rare cases which we have never had before. In short at the moment we do not have any history of an assignment which we have failed to deal with as Kitwe fire brigade.
Q. What are the major challenges in firefighting?
A. Our major challenges are lack of proper modern firefighting equipment.
Q. What are your safety tips to Kitwe residents?
A. We have fire prevention and safety wings which disseminate information about the dangers of fire to residents. This has helped us greatly to sensitize the community about the dangers of fire. This wing also ensures that there is compliance with fire safety regulations in industries and other business places.
Q. Do you have any useful information that you would like the public to know through KitweOnline?
A. The people need to know that there are legal statutes that regulate matters of fire safety and prevention. They need to know how to handle and dispose of highly flammable substances. They also need to know how to safeguard their property from damage through fire. They have to know that we offer fire safety tips here at our station.
Residents are free to walk in to our offices to obtain more information about fire safety and prevention. We have toll free numbers for each mobile service provider, which residents need to know. They can use any of these emergency numbers to reach us.
Airtel, Zamtel mobile and landline emergency toll free number is 993.
MTN mobile phone has a different emergency number which is 021 222 899
Q. What are your words of encouragement to the youth who want to make a career as fire fighters?
A. We encourage youths who want to make out a career in firefighting to work hard in mathematics and science subjects. These are required for admission into the Fire Services School One must have a minimum of a grade 12 certificate, and they must be mentally and physically fit.
Thank for talking to KitweOnline.
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