PCPM aid gives boost to further development of Kenya’s fire services system
Makueni County is located southeast of Nairobi, covering an area of 8,400 square kilometers with a population of 1 million. Before PCPM’s project, there was not a single firefighting unit in the entire county. Thanks to the efforts of the Polish Center for International Aid, a fire station was built in Makindu, while a second one was expanded in Wote, the county’s capital.
“We have the highest number of calls to forest fires and to road accidents involving tanker trucks carrying chemical and petroleum products. Through our county passes 260 km of the main road in Kenya, connecting Nairobi to the port of Mombasa. This is the most crowded road in Kenya, and until now no firefighting unit has served it. 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. the governor of Makueni County in southern Kenya.
Makindu is located 70 kilometers south of Wote, the capital of Makueni County, on the A109 road connecting Kenya’s two largest urban centers, Nairobi and Mombasa. In November 2022, a firefighting unit was established, thanks to the efforts of the Polish Center for International Aid. The PCPM fully financed and built the firefighters’ center, which includes administration, housing, storage, a separate building for the unit commander and a garage for firefighting vehicles. The funds came from the “Polish Aid” program, coordinated by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The creation of a fire station in Makindu cost about $185,000. We worked very efficiently adapting the project to the real needs and capabilities of the local firefighters, so the center is very functional,” says PCPM Foundation President Dr. Wojtek Wilk.
As Governor Kilonzo Jr. points out, PCPM’s activities have given an extremely important impulse to the development of rescue and firefighting services in the county.
“Thanks to the help of people from Poland, the first two units in our county were established, and now we want to create four more. As governor, I decided to raise the budget for the fire department from KES 2 million ($15,000) to KES 4.5 million ($34,000). A total of 18 firefighters are now already working at fire stations in Wote and Makindu – 12 permanently and six volunteers. We also have two large fire engines, one for each fire station,” the governor calculated.
At the end of March 2023, the governor met with PCPM representatives 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 establishment of a fire station in Makindu is of great importance for the safety of users of the main highway in Kenya, which is used to transport 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 scene of the accident, who either incompetently helped or stole the gasoline,” the PCPM Foundation president explained.
The Polish Center for International Aid has been supporting the Kenyan fire department since 2014. During this time, the number of firefighting units across the country has increased from 26 to 71, and the number of firefighters from 450 to more than 1,500.
Over the nine years of activity in Kenya, PCPM has created a fire station in Maukeni County in southern Kenya, and has supported dozens of others by providing them with firefighting equipment, equipment, and training personnel.
The Foundation has opened and equipped a training center in Kiambu (central Kenya), where it provides training for firefighters and rescuers from around the country. Polish specialists, under the auspices of the Polish Center for International Aid, have already trained more than 60% of all Kenyan firefighters. Another contribution of the PCPM to the creation of firefighting structures in Kenya is the development by Polish experts of an accreditation process for professional training and a vocational training system for firefighters, which is unique in the education system in Kenya.
PCPM’s annual budget for activities in Kenya is about PLN 1.5 million. In total, since 2014. PCPM has implemented projects in Kenya worth about PLN 14 million. The funds come from the “Polish Aid” program coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.