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Capacity-building and addressing inequalities in development of fire brigade and disaster management systems in Kenya

The rapid and often uncontrolled urbanisation, the high birth rate, the poor public awareness and lack of proper caution result in fires in Kenya that deprive thousands of people of their property, often even causing death or permanent injury. The most tragic effects are from fires of multi-storey buildings. The local firefighters, without specialist equipment or know-how in rescue techniques, are usually incapable of carrying out effective fire extinguishing operations and evacuations of people from the highest storeys of a building on fire. The victims of fires are usually the poorest residents of cities and villages.

The immensity of hazards cannot be handled by the fire brigades maintained by the individual counties without a uniform programme for development of a rescue and fire extinguishing system. Training of firefighters is organised under the individual principles adopted by the given local government, which results in acute differences in the level of knowledge and professional background. Instruction is often conducted by persons without the appropriate qualifications and there are times when newly accepted firefighters undergo no training at all. The teams from various counties apply different tactics and are unable to refer to standard procedures that would greatly facilitate cooperation in natural disasters such as floods. The logistics and facilities needed for rescue and firefighting operations are also not standardised.

The lack of central regulations means that local governments freely interpret the obligation of organising services that would be responsible for the safety of citizens during emergencies. The local fire brigade, often without basic tools needed for operations, shows poor operational readiness. The lack of accommodations and sanitation facilities forces firefighters to reach the fire station from their homes and only then set out to extinguish the fire.

Another important problem is the uneven deployment of fire brigades in the organisational structure of counties. Fire crews without a representative in the local authorities receive less funding. In extreme cases, they are also used for assignments that have little to do with their service, e.g. for work as gardeners.

The non-standard fire equipment is also a problem. In the individual counties one can find Polish, English, American, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and German equipment. This is an immense problem in maintenance and raises costs. It also makes cooperation difficult among units that use different equipment, making it impossible to conduct joint exercises.

Capacity-building and addressing inequalities in development of fire brigade and disaster management systems in Kenya

The general aim of the project, planned for three years as complementary to earlier actions financed by Polish Aid, is the development of a vocational training system and equalising the disproportions in the development of the structure and training of fire brigades between various regions of Kenya. The undertaking is addressed to areas not covered by support until now and calls for training of firefighters from 12-19 Kenyan counties, which would ensure access to better fire protection for as many as 19 million people.

The actions planned for 2018 within Module I will focus on ensuring appropriate infrastructure and developing a comprehensive training programme. A key task will be the expansion of the Central Firefighting Training Centre in Kiambu. The current state of the complex provides accommodations for only 20 course participants at one time and the very poor conditions do not allow for training that lasts longer than 2-3 weeks. Without more classrooms, several classes cannot be conducted at the same time. Expansion of the centre will make it possible for 30 firefighters to attend a full, 19-week course at the same time.

An equally important element will be to draw up, together with the Kenya National Fire Brigade Association, a programme for vocational training of firefighters, preceded by consultations with a number of institutions: the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVET), the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), the Kenya Port Authority (KPA), the Kenya Marine Authority (KMA), the Kenya Petroleum Refinery (KPR), the Kenya Refinery Authority (KRA), the National Construction Authority (NCA), the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), the Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), the Kenya Council of Emergency Medical Technic (KCEMT) and the Kenya Airport Authority (KAA). The ready programme for training will be presented to TVET. Acceptance of the project by this institution will make it possible to issue a professional diploma recognised by the Kenyan authorities and to carry out a series of training sessions in the whole country.

In 2018, co-financing of the project by Polish Aid will amount to PLN 803,473, with the project’s value being PLN 942,073.