Tanzania Fire and Rescue Unit has plans to procure five new vehicles and build seven fire and rescue centers in Dar es Salaam, on the basis of the 2012/2013 estimates of The Ministry of Home Affairs.
On account of financial constraints, the unit shall build two centers out of seven, with each center having a working fire engine as a starting point, officials said, noting that the two stations will also be provided with containers and tents.
Fikiri Salla, acting head of public safety at the Fire and Rescue Unit said they had already identified areas where the new centers will be built, namely at Mwenge, Tegeta, Mbezi Luis, Tabata, Gongo la Mboto, Mbagala and Kigamboni.
Currently the Fire and Rescue Unit in Dar es Salaam has two centers, making it difficult to react on time if fire breaks out at a far-flunked corner of the city, holding an estimated 4.5 million residents.
“We have two centers in Dar es Salaam, one at Nyerere Road near Tazara-Mchicha and the other is here along Morogoro Road near Kariakoo. This is a challenge as the city is big with a huge population,” he stated.
He said, since 1990 the unit has 13 fire tenders procured in different times, while two of them were provided through aid programmes.
Up to this moment there are only two cars that are function at fire and rescue center near Morogoro Road while the other 11 tenders are not operational due to various problems.
“One fire tender ceased operations last week. Some tenders need spare parts and others are undergoing mechanical services in different garages,” he said.
Most regions have fire and rescue units while the newly created regions did not have the services, and only two districts, Njombe and Babati. The unit plans to increase centers in other regions to match the rising requirements, he said.
“Dar es Salaam is a major center with a huge population, and traffic congestion poses a challenge in trying to reach a fire outbreak,” he said, noting that this is why services have to be spread in various parts of the city.
The unit is also in discussion with Knight Support Ltd, a private company involved in fire and rescue services in order to convince the company to review the rates it charges for fire fighting and rescue services. He said the company bills a client about Sh 5million, which was too high for many would-be clients to afford.
“We are still in discussion but up to this moment the company has not agreed to reduce the amounts,” he said.
Commenting on fake fire stickers provided by some unethical officers of the unit, Fikiri said from Monday this week the task is being placed under the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA). No fire unit employee will be responsible for issuance of stickers, he emphasized.
Alfred Masao (76) whose house was gutted in a fire accident on December 29, 2010 at Keko Sadani said that the fire and rescue unit was so late they came after everything had burnt to ashes.
Masao urged the unit to report on time in order to save people’s lives and properties.
However, the matter of reporting on time was different for Chichi Somboko who lives near the National Stadium in Temeke district. He recently had a fire outbreak where the Fire and Rescue Unit reported on time and managed to rescue some properties.
“The house caught on fire at around 11:00 am and the unit arrived after five minutes. So I do appreciate their work otherwise the effects would more severe,” the lady said emphatically.
Responding to that observation, Fikiri said sometimes they fail to arrive early if some people start by calling the police instead of dialing directly to the unit, aside from having to negotiate the traffic.
Unplanned settlements in most areas of the city pose problems in finding out the fire outbreak location, with the lack of street names adding to the problem.
He also refuted the much circulated observation that fire engine often arrive in fire outbreak areas without water in tenders.
“You have seen our fire tenders are full of water but what happens is sometimes water get finished before the fire is extinguished. Therefore in such a case we are compelled to get back to the office to reload the tenders,” he added.