The governor of Kiambu County, Kenya: the creation of fire brigades is not only an increase in safety, but also an opportunity for young Kenyans to work

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

One of the main effect of PCPM’s activities in Kenya is the creation of a training center for firefighters in Kiambu in the central part of the country. At the Fire and Rescue Training Center, Polish specialists teach firefighters and rescuers from Kenya, among others, using rope techniques, rescuing victims of car accidents and using specialized rescue equipment. It is estimated that at the Kiambu training center the PCPM has already trained 60% of all Kenyan firefighters.

In addition, for 9 years of activity in Kenya, PCPM created from scratch a fire station in Maukeni County in southern Kenya, and also supported several dozen other stations through staff training and the supply of fire equipment.

“Just 10 years ago, our county was 100% dependent on fire departments from Nairobi. Today we have our own fire stations and our own firefighters. The establishment of these units is an important event for our community, not only because public safety is increasing, but also because there are new opportunities for young people to find work,” said Governor Wamatangi during the official visit to the Kiambu fire station.

The ceremonial meeting at the Kiambu Fire and Rescue Training Center was also attended by the CEO of the Polish Center for International Aid, Dr Wojtek Wilk, and representatives of the Polish Embassy in Nairobi.

“The creation of fire brigade structures in Kenya is a task spread over the years, but the effects of our work can be seen quickly. Since 2016, we have been sending instructors from Poland to Kenya, who have so far conducted training sessions in various firehouses in Kenya. Thanks to the opening of the training center in Kiambu, we can increase the number of trained firefighters and the effectiveness of training. Ultimately, we want the Kiambu center to be used by firefighters and rescuers from neighboring countries – Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania,” said the CEO of the PCPM Foundation, Dr. Wojtek Wilk.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Poland stressed that such projects build a positive image of Poland in Kenya, and our country is increasingly recognizable by the local community, especially in places where projects from the pool of the “Polish Aid” (“Polska Pomoc”) project are being developed.

“Among the educated part of the Kenyan society, it is quite common knowledge that Poland is a country of the European Union perceived on a par with the countries of Western Europe. Just 10 years ago, there was no such common knowledge about Poland here. The activity of the PCPM is one of the elements promoting Poland in Kenya, said the Polish Ambassador to Kenya, Jacek Bazański.

“Poland’s growing position in Kenya is also noticed by the local political class. We are among a small group of countries recognized by the local government as donor countries. Thanks to this, we are being invited to meetings with the president and ministers, and we take part in discussions on international aid directed to Kenya,” added the ambassador.

During the official visit to the fire station in Kiambu, the governor also expressed his thanks to Poland and on behalf of the county’s administration declared full support for local firefighters.

“I would like to express my deepest thanks to PCPM and Polish Aid for carrying out these projects with us. They were stubborn and brought the projects to fruition. Now, as governor, I want to pledge that we will fund and support our firefighters. Each of them will be covered by insurance, each will receive a good salary, and we are committed to keeping this center running,” said the governor of Kiambu County.

In addition to creating a Fire and Rescue Training Center in Kiambu from scratch and two fire stations in Maukeni County in southern Kenya (Wote and Makindu), PCPM also supported several dozen other fire stations, providing them with firefighting equipment, personal equipment, as well as training staff. An additional contribution of PCPM to the creation of fire brigade structures in Kenya is the development by Polish experts of the process of accreditation of vocational training system for firefighters, which is unique in the entire 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 Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.