Though an International Emergency Management Practitioner, I come from a developing Country Kenya, or if you may a third world Country for that matter. What is amazing in Kenya and I believe in most African Countries, is our fixation especially those in leadership positions, particular the finance decision makers on a myth.
They tend to believe that for a County or local Government Fire Service to be deemed efficient it all boils down to having new fire engines, which rather enforces a rather myopic idea that fire engines fight fires. To which I say they don’t, they are in essence, just tools to help those that answered the divine call of being fire fighters fight them fires !
Simplistic as my argument may be, County Governments in Kenya are on an spending spree, to equip their fire departments with new Chinese made fire engines costing as little as 70000$ devoid of the bigger picture of their shelf life, short term efficiency notwithstanding. However, that is not my point here.
My point though bias, as it is the fireman in me talking, is why buy a new fire engine and forget to refurbish the fireman, yet it is the same fireman using that fire engine, who is tasked with the life threatening job of extinguishing fires when they occur?
By refurbishing, I mean tool the firefighter with proper training, kits, a good pay, and above all else simply make his or her stay whilst on call waiting for the fires, comfortable at the station level?
In Kenya, unlike the West for example, a firefighter is one of the most down trodden souls. And works in a dilapidated state of affairs, their crew rooms and on-station welfare is simply pathetic. Why then do we spend millions to buy engines, whilst the user is relegated to a grade, just slightly high than the homeless, albeit clade in some uniform?
Can that new fire engine fight a fire on its own ? Yet, the only time a fire beats the firefighter is when its magnitude & intensity supersedes his physical limits? I stand with my tribe, the firefighters who put their lives on the line, every day for the rest of mankind to enjoy a fireless time, anywhere they serve.
And yes, fire engines are indeed just tools, to ease our work, we are the main force behind them fighting fires and need looking after too.
I stand with the Kenyan, the Nigerian, the Colombian, the British, the Australian, the Mongolian & Firefighters globally. We are not children of a lesser God & deserve respect !
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