Firefighters have decried poor remuneration and unfavorable working conditions in the majority of counties.
Chairman of Chief Fire Officers Association of Kenya Samuel Kahura has observed that there is no established scheme of service for fire fighters saying the workers are among poorly paid government employees despite risks associated with their nature of work.
He stated that the association is working on a scheme of service which will be presented to the Council of Governors to ensure the fire fighters are well remunerated and provided with modern equipment to adequately deal with disasters.
Kahura was speaking on Monday during commissioning of renovated Murang’a County fire brigade station, occasion which was graced by among other guests, ambassador of republic of Poland to Kenya.
The scheme, he said, should also capture insurance cover of the officers arguing that firefighters usually work on life threatening incidents.
“Fire fighters are not covered by insurance and we want this to be captured in the scheme of services which will be presented to the council of governors within a period of two months.” he added.
The chairman observed that the country is faced by shortage of fire fighters saying there are about 1, 500 fire fighters.
“Global standard is that one firefighter should serve 2,000 citizens. In Kenya we have approximately 1,500 fire fighters against a population of about 50 million people.
“The county government should come up with an elaborate plan to employ and train more fire fighters. We don’t only handle fire incidents but also various types of disasters,” noted Kahura.
He asked counties which have no fire stations to ensure they have a well-equipped station which is ready to respond in case of a disaster.
“It’s unfortunate some counties don’t have fire stations. Some have dilapidated stations which lack equipment. It’s our call to the devolved administrations to consider establishing fire stations and having disaster management teams.” He further said.
On his part, Murang’a Governor Irungu Kang’ata said more funds will be allocated to ensure the county is fully prepared to handle any case of disaster.
He lauded the Polish government which has assisted the county administration to renovate the fire station and train firefighters.
“We appreciate the Polish government which has been of great help in ensuring this county is well prepared to tackle disasters. More funds will be allocated to improve service delivery in the station.” He noted.
On his part, the Polish Ambassador, Jacek Bazanski said his country will continue to partner with the government of Kenya in various sectors including safety, education and health.
He underscored the need to have a well-equipped fire station and trained disaster rescuers saying his country has invested largely to ensure some counties have well equipped stations to handle disasters.
Meanwhile the county Chief Disaster Manager Bilha Wanjiku said soon they will open a fire station in Kangema Sub County.
She noted the sub county in the recent past has reported about 14 incidents of fire saying a fire engine takes about half any hour from Murang’a town to Kangema.
“Fire stations in Kangema will handle cases including those in Kahuro and Mathioya sub counties. Currently Murang’a has three stations, the one in Murang’a town, Kenol and Kangari in Kigumo.” She added.
By Bernard Munyao