FIRE fighting has proved to be a mammoth task for the local authorities in Zambia owing to challenges being faced such as inadequate equipment and manpower.
In many instances, property worth millions of Kwacha is damaged in infernos with reasons advanced to the incapacity of the fire brigade to contain the fires.
The Government is alive to this fact and it is gratifying to note that Local Government and Housing Minister John Phiri has outlined strategies aimed at intensifying fire fighting services in the country.
Dr Phiri has directed local authorities to plough back at least 50 per cent of fees collected from fire certificates to fire fighting and rescue service operations.
The minister’s directive is timely in the wake of continued loss of property from fire and his directive will increase support to fire officers in order for them to efficiently serve the community.
It is saddening to watch people’s hard earned investment go up in flames when the effect could have been avoided with effective response once the fire breaks out.
We also welcome the Government’s programme of decentralising the provision of fire and rescue services through the contribution of additional fire stations countrywide.
Local authorities should begin to identify land that will house these facilities so that fire and rescue services are brought as close to the people as possible.
It is unfortunate that some parts of the country have been operating without a fire brigade, making it difficult to contain incidences of fires.
People in some districts have to rely on fire tenders from outside for the service at a time when a building is already in flames.
This trend must come to an end.?This is why we join Dr Phiri ii calling for private sector investment in the provision of fire and rescue services.?Firefighting equipment in some stations around the country is dilapidated and can not be used effectively to contain huge infernos.
The Government alone cannot sustain the operations of the fire and rescue department unit of the local authorities because this sector requires huge capital investment to operate in line with modern trends.
Firefighting equipment has been modified globally making it costly for the Government to continue improving operations in light of competing needs.
This is why the private sector should come on board and partner with the councils in improving equipment used in fire fighting and rescue services.
There is also need to invest in training for staff in the fire fighting department to increase awareness on the modern trends in firefighting.
Most of the people manning the fire brigade either adopt the existing techniques without exposure to modern practices and at times, this could be costly.
The help of cooperating partners could be key in this area with the provision of scholarships for outside training in firefighting techniques.
This could be one of the schemes that can be implemented through the routine Zambia National Service (ZNS) training for school leavers. OPINION