Local Government and Housing Minister Emmanuel Chenda says government attaches great importance to the fire services and is committed to revamping the industry that has been neglected for a long time.
And Mr Chenda has warned traders against illegal practices of turning market stalls into dwelling places.
He said the fact that President Michael Sata directed that the country should start commemorating the Fire Fighters’ Day in 2012 underpins the importance government attaches to the role fire fighters.
Mr Chenda was speaking in Solwezi today during this year’s international fire fighters day.
Mr Chenda said government is also providing appropriate training and equipment in order for fire fighters to carry out their duty of saving lives and protecting property.
This year’s international fire fighters day is being commemorated under the theme “enhancement of basic life support in fire and rescue: a must for saving lives and property.”
The minister said the theme could not have come at a better time than now when the fire and rescue services industry is receiving practical support from government.
He said this can be seen by the number of state-of-the-art fire tenders and rescue vehicles that have been given to local authorities and the recruitment of over 400 fire officers.
Speaking earlier, Fire Services Union of Zambia Vice president Billings Chanda said the investment that the country is recording in the mining, agriculture sectors needs a sound fire fighting service.
However, Mr Chanda said the firefighting sector has continued to underperform because most local authorities have neglected the sector.
Mr Chanda also appealed for the inclusion of a clause on fire fighting in the draft constitution.
Mr Chenda said the country has recorded numerous fire accidents in markets such as Chisokone market in Kitwe because people have turned these places into their homes.
He said fires in the market have destroyed goods worth colossal sums of money rendering owners bankrupt some of whom have become destitutes.
Mr Chenda has also appealed to residents across the country to refrain from the tendency of calling the media whenever there is a fire instead of informing the nearest fire station.
He said this trend delays quick response by fire fighters and results in loss of valuable property.