By SAM PHIRI
LUSAKA City Council (LCC) has admitted that the fire fighting department is under-performing leading to failure in quenching most fire incidences in the city.
This is in the wake of recent reports of poor firefighting services recorded by the Fire Brigade in Lusaka mainly because of dilapidated, vandalised or hidden fire hydrants.
LCC public relations manager Habeenzu Mulunda said the local authority and the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) would this week inspect all fire hydrant points in a bid to resolve and improve firefighting services.
Mr Mulunda said the firefighting department had in the recent past faced challenges in its operations because of outdated hydrants.
Many times, the fire tender has been seen drawing water from the main fire station but faces challenges passing through the thicket of traffic jams and vendors.
A recent check by the Sunday Times revealed that despite having inadequate fire hydrants in the city, most of these points are inaccessible because street vendors have mounted makeshift stands on
top of which they have put their goods.
But Mr Mulunda said this was less of a problem as the vendors would be moved in an event that there was need of drawing water from the same point.
“Trading on top of a hydrant is not a problem because we can easily move the vendors out should we need to draw water from that particular point,” he said.
Other than the vendors’ obstruction, some fire hydrant points are reportedly abused for watering or are punctured by people conducting car wash business.
LWSC has refurbished 100 fire hydrants and has put up 62 fire new points in a bid to improve access to water close to the fire scene, but some vendors have unknowingly mounted tables on the hydrants.
Public relations manager Topsy Siakalinda said the water utility firm was refurbishing and putting up more fire hydrants although some people had opened them for wrong uses.
“We have had situations where people have been abusing fire hydrants ,” Mr Siakalinda said.
“What they don’t know is that it is a criminal offence to use water from these hydrants for anything else apart from what it is meant for.”
Mr Siakalinda said a joint tour with LCC was cardinal as this would also be used as a platform to inform the general public about the fire significance of the hydrants.
Times of Zambia