Nakuru County government has purchased two modern firefighting engines worth Sh150 million as it seeks to strengthen its disaster response capabilities.
Governor Lee Kinyanjui said his administration was keen on having a functional fire department to serve and protect the fast-growing investments in the region.
Talking to KNA at his office, Kinyanjui revealed that the county has set aside a further Sh165 million to revamp the fire department.
“When we came into office, the fire department relied on only one fire engine and a water bowser truck which was in a poor state. We are putting efforts to strengthen the department, as well as establishing a Regional Disaster Response System for Rift Valley region counties,” he explained.
The new engines are fitted with a 13m ladder as well as cutting machines that are used to cut metals especially when rescuing passengers trapped in vehicles after accidents.
“Our aim is to have each of the eleven Sub-Counties equipped with a fire engine. This is just the beginning of the implementation of the initiative,” said the Governor.
Kinyanjui observed the new engines will initially be stationed in Nakuru town, but would serve all the eleven Sub-Counties.
He stated that he would rally the County Assembly to consider purchase of a third engine in the next financial year budgetary allocations.
“This is a major step in our disaster preparedness plan, given that there is enough water supply in Nakuru town,” said Kinyanjui, adding, “We are now firmly on the route to a functional fire department to protect investments in our county,” observed Kinyanjui.
According to the County Chief Officer for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance Anne Njenga, 30 firefighters have undergone a two-week training session at the Kenya Pipeline Company’s (KPC) Morendat Institute of Oil and Gas in Naivasha on disaster response, firefighting and rescue techniques.
Ms Njenga stated that the County is partnering with state agencies and humanitarian organizations to train communities on safe fire and flood handling techniques to avert disasters.
She further announced that a modern fire station being constructed at the Central Business District would be operational within two months.
“The station will serve as a Disaster Response Centre not only for Nakuru County, but neighbouring counties as well,” Ms Njenga stated.
The Chief Officer noted that the new facility will be equipped with staff quarters and support staff. It will be manned full time by career firemen.
She stated that the Fire station will be equipped with ambulances, boreholes among other facilities that will enable the Department to respond to disasters in a timely manner.
“Given the experiences we have had recently, this equipment will go a long way in helping us combat problems such as collapsed buildings, fires and floods. The quantity of this equipment that will be fitted at the facility was arrived at after studying Nakuru and determining the needs in terms of management.
We will be procuring service vehicles, rapid intervention vehicles, turntable ladders and personal protection equipment sets,” she added.
The new CBD fire station will also be fitted with a state of the art alarm system that besides alerting the firefighters on emergencies will also deploy technology to pinpoint exact locations where emergency response is required.
“The proposed fire station is strategically located for easy access to all buildings within the CBD. It will also work as a backup to the old fire station in Bondeni Estate that was constructed by colonialists” stated the Chief Officer.
By Anne Mwale