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Fatal fire disasters in Nairobi worrying

By Editorial | February 27th 2015 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Kibera is not only known for being a congested slum, like many other informal settlements in Nairobi, it has become a death trap for many people, some of whom have died in unexplained fire disasters.

In the Laini Saba area of Kibera, a fire that broke out in the night claimed the lives of seven members of one family in December last year.

On Wednesday morning, a fire burnt down a section of Kibera and claimed the lives of a woman and three of her children.

Others who sustained serious burns were admitted to the Kenyatta National Hospital. In the past, causes of such fires in slums include illegal electrical connections, burst paraffin stoves or overturned tin lamps. The biggest problem, however, has been the response of the fire fighters to such emergencies.

Besides the poor response, slum areas are so densely populated and because of unplanned settlement, lack roads that can provide access in times of such emergencies.

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Those charged with city planning ought to ensure there are adequate roads and water points that could come in handy when such fire outbreaks occur.

In 2013, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero launched 12 motorcycle fire engines in Kibera because the bigger fire engines could not manoeuvre their way to scenes of fire outbreak.

Doubts expressed by the fire brigade association on the efficacy of the motorcycle fire engines have been vindicated because they did not come in handy at all.

There are possibilities that the motor fire engines are no longer functional or that the officers lack basic fire response skills. Most areas of Nairobi are susceptible to fire outbreaks and the need for disaster preparedness cannot be overemphasised.

Nairobi County fire-fighters are often caught napping whenever fires are reported. It is feared that Nairobi county only has about 100 fire fighters, a number hardly enough to serve the needs of a population of more than four million people.

This disparity should be addressed to enhance efficiency. Last year, the Nairobi County set aside Sh100 million for fire engines.

That is the first step to ensuring that response to fire disasters is fast and effective.


Fire Kibera Nairobi
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