What do people in Kenya do if there’s a fire? Who do they call?
It depends on the region, but generally speaking, the populace has to fend for itself. Most of the country’s 47 counties do have a fire department, but they are often very poorly equipped and trained. Also, outside of the big cities there is no reticulated firefighting water supply.
Another problem is the type and condition of the roads in the poorer residential neighborhoods. What’s more, there is no standardized nationwide emergency phone number, and no emergency call control and dispatch centers. You may be able to call the local fire brigade on a standard landline number, which in most cases will be 10 digits long. In some large urban centers you can use the British 999 emergency number, or the international 112 number.
How long until the fire engines get there?
That always depends on local factors, on the condition of the fire appliances and on the road infrastructure and what sort of weather damage it may have sustained. Also, the distances involved are often quite large. The response times are nothing like what we have here in Europe, so the time window can be anything from 30 minutes to well over an hour.
And how well is the response team typically equipped?
In most cases the response units have only basic equipment. Availability of proper protective clothing is not a given, and only very few firefighters have breathing apparatus. Specialized equipment is often non-existent, and the training lacks standardization and is very patchy.
Is the situation in Tanzania similar?
Yes, the situation is similar, and in some cases it is even worse in terms of equipment and size of the area and population served. For example, in the northern region, where our European Support Team is operating, there are currently eight fire personnel in charge of 5,000 square kilometers and the safety of 380,000 people – which is an absolute impossibility.