Fire Fleet to the Rescue

THE first frightening sign of fire you see is black smoke billowing plumes into the sky. Next you hear sirens in the distance, and before your heart can skip another beat, the arrival of gleaming red state-of-the-art fire fighting machines and emergency vehicles on the scene means that the life and death situation is now under control and in good hands.

Such is the scene that takes place on a daily basis, be it in town or out on a plot somewhere in Brakwater, but wherever and whenever heroic fire fighters with their fleet of gleaming red machines are at our beck and call. Speaking to Woema during an exclusive interview this week Fire Chief Raymond Kapia said that N$5-million has been allocated by the City of Windhoek to the Emergency Management Division for the purchase of two much needed fire fighting vehicle.

The vehicles which are currently in production in Pretoria are being specifically modified to suit the relevant requirements of our Windhoek fire fighting department. The ‘Rapid Intervention Fire Fighting’ vehicle built on a Toyota Land Cruiser 4times4 Chassis, is according to Fire Chief Kapia a smaller and more versatile unit, which will be highly efficient in tackling both mountainous areas and the packed informal settlements where there are no proper roads. This is expected to be delivered by end of August. “The informal settlements are becoming one our biggest challenge, because mostly there are no roads at all, and our larger fire engines cannot squeeze between the congested networks of shacks, which is what this vehicle will be giving us.”

The second and larger fire fighting vehicle on order, is being built on a Scandia Truck 4times4 chassis, with double cab feature and is a ‘heavy duty’ multi-purpose fire engine equipped with its own pump and a powerful engine. This vehicle will serve well in the semi-rural areas and outside plots because of its water carrying capacity and off-road handling. It is expected to be completed by the end of the year because it is being fitted with more features. Both vehicles will be equipped with a superstructure comprising fire pumps, lockers, water tank, hose reels and a long list of equipment. “We are just trying to cater to all the different scenarios which we need to be prepared for, anything from urban to semi-rural, farming and natural habitat,” added Chief Kapia adding that the Fire fighting fleet currently comprises of 45 units, including fire fighting machines, ambulance, response vehicles, and rescue vehicles utility 4times4’s. The last vehicles the department received were three Mercedes Benz vehicles were donated to the Windhoek Fire Department by the Ministry Local Government and Housing, which were all converted from standard Mercedes Benz, into purpose vehicles through the addition of a multitude of different specification features, two more are going to be added to the growing fleet.

With the fire season picking up with veld fires as our crackling dry landscape become a target to be ignited by cigarette stompies careless discarded, the Windhoek Emergency Management Division is on full alert 247. The challenge of the Fire Department to protect the community and prevent the destruction of property through fire, is an ongoing challenge for our team of fire fighters and as Windhoek grows in all directions, the need to have adequate vehicles to meet the requirements of the job is becoming just as important. Chief Kapia said that because the city is growing they can travel over kilometres wither way out of Windhoek to reach a call out, and being able to adequately get the scene on time can mean the difference of life and death and preventing the fire spreading.

“Our aim is to respond to accidents and the growing fire problems of informal settlements by providing vehicles that can function efficiently in these environments and we need vehicles that are custom made to suit the purpose. “Because there are a lot of farms close by Windhoek, vegetation is dry and the veld fires are keeping us busy at present. We request that the public behaves responsibly and adhere to fire safety regulations, because fires can easily spread causing severe damage to property, habitat and lives.”

Source : New Era