Governor of Makueni County, Kenya: PCPM’s activities give impetus to the further development of the fire department structures

Makueni County is located south-east of Nairobi, covering an area of 8,400 km², home to 1 million people. Prior to the involvement of the PCPM, not a single fire department was operational throughout the county. Thanks to the efforts of the Polish Center for International Aid, a fire station in Makindu was built from scratch, and the second one in Wote – the capital of the county – was expanded.

“We have the most calls to forest fires and road accidents involving tankers carrying chemical and petroleum products. Our county is crossed by 260 km of the main road in Kenya connecting Nairobi with the port of Mombasa. This is the most congested road in Kenya, which has not been serviced by any fire department so far. Now, thanks to the PCPM, we have a special fire station in Makindu that is prepared to respond to incidents on this road,” says Mutula Kilonzo Jr., Governor of Makueni County in southern Kenya.

Makindu is located 70 km south of Wote – the capital of Maukeni County – on the A109 road connecting Kenya’s two largest urban centers: Nairobi and Mombasa.

In November 2022, thanks to the efforts of the Polish Center for International Aid, a fire brigade unit was created here from scratch. PCPM fully financed and built a center for firefighters, which consists of an administrative part, a housing part, a storage part, a separate building for the commander of the unit and a garage for fire vehicles. The funds came from the “Polish Aid” (“Polska Pomoc”) program coordinated by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The cost of creating a fire station in Makindu from scratch was cca. USD 185,000. We acted very effectively, adapting the project to the real needs and capabilities of the local firefighters, thanks to which the center is very functional,” says the president of the PCPM Foundation, dr. Wojtek Wilk.

As emphasized by Governor Kilonzo Jr., the activities of the PCPM gave an extremely important impetus to the development of rescue and fire services in the county.

“Thanks to the help of people from Poland, the first two units were established in our county, and now we want to create four more. As governor, I decided to increase the budget for the fire departments from KES 2 million (USD 15,000) to KES 4.5 million (USD 34,000). In total, there are currently 18 firefighters working at the fire stations in Wote and Makindu – 12 permanent and 6 volunteers. We also have two large fire trucks, one for each fire station,” the governor lists.

At the end of March 2023, the governor met with representatives of the PCPM at his office in Wote, and then conducted an official visit to the unit in Wote. During the meeting, firefighters demonstrated their skills during a staged demonstration of extinguishing a residential building.

“The construction of the Makindu depot is of paramount importance to the safety of users on the main road in Kenya that transports gasoline and flammable materials to and from the port of Mombasa. Until now, every accident involving a tanker truck generated a huge risk of a subsequent explosion, when random people gathered around the accident site, who either helped incompetently or stole petrol,” explains the president of the PCPM Foundation.

The Polish Center for International Aid Foundation has been supporting the Kenyan fire brigades since 2014. During this time, the number of fire departments across the country increased from 26 to 71, and the number of firefighters from 450 to over 1,500.

For 9 years of activity in Kenya, PCPM has created a fire station from scratch in the Maukeni county in southern Kenya, and also supported several dozen others by providing them with firefighting equipment, personal equipping and training staff.

In addition, the Foundation opened and equipped a training center in Kiambu (central Kenya), where it conducts training for firefighters and rescuers from all over the country. Polish specialists, under the auspices of the Polish Center for International Aid, have already trained over 60% of all Kenyan firefighters.

Another contribution of PCPM to the creation of fire brigade structures in Kenya is the development by experts from Poland of the process of accreditation of vocational training and vocational education system for firefighters, which is unique in the education system in Kenya.

PCPM’s annual budget for activities in Kenya is approximately PLN 1.5 million (USD 0.4 million). In total, since 2014, PCPM has implemented projects worth approximately PLN 14 million (USD 3.4 million) in Kenya. The funds come from the “Polish Aid” (“Polska Pomoc”) program coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland.