Kenyan firefighters trained by PCPM conducted a series of educational demo shows for the local population
Residents of the towns of Muranga and Ruiru in central Kenya could see and learn how to fight a fire and how to help victims of a car accident as local firefighters organized demo shows of their skills in both towns. Earlier, thanks to the initiative of the Polish Center for International Aid (PCPM), they were trained by Polish specialists.
In Muranga (Kiambu County, central Kenya), a fire in a multi-story building and a show of rescuing a victim of a car accident were staged. Firefighters from the Muranga fire department took part in the rescue operation. The show was watched by dozens of local residents.
“For many of our residents, such shows are the only way to see how to handle fire. Many of them do not even know that they can turn to the fire brigade for help. We get about 20 calls a month, mainly to forest fires, housing fires and road accidents across the county,” describes Bilha Wanjiku Muchiri, head of the Muranga fire department.
After the staged demonstration of putting out a fire and rescuing a victim of a car accident, the participating firefighters appealed to the local population to call them in case of road accidents and fires. In 2014, in Kenya, which had a population of 46 million at the time, there were only 26 fire brigades in only a dozen or so counties out of 47 that makeup Kenya. Common knowledge in Kenyan society about the functioning of the fire brigades is very low, few Kenyans – especially outside of Nairobi – know how to call the relevant services.
“This is slowly changing, we have more and more calls on the phone, while until recently +running calls+ dominated, i.e. calls by running to our firehouse. This change greatly increased our reaction time. Social awareness of our work and the possibilities of providing assistance is low. Many residents treat us hostilely, because by our arrival and intervention, they lose the opportunity to rob the site of a fire or accident,” explains Julius K’Yator, chief of firebrigade in Nakuru County in western Kenya.
Firefighters from Muranga are one of many in Kenya who were trained by specialists from Poland thanks to the involvement of the Polish Center for International Aid (PCPM). The PCPM Foundation has been supporting the Kenyan fire brigade since 2014. During this time, the number of fire brigades across the country has increased from 26 to 71, and the number of firefighters from 450 to over 1,500. PCPM helps several dozen local fire stations, e.g. through staff training and the supply of firefighting equipment and personal equipment.
FIRE EXTINGUISHING SHOW IN RUIRU
In Ruiru (Kiambu County, central Kenya) local firefighters organized a training demo show to educate residents on how to put out fires and what basic safety measures to take.
“I am one of the firefighters trained at the training center in Kiambu. Learning from specialists from Poland is extremely useful to me at work. The main skills I have gained from these training are rope rescue, firefighting and car crash victims,” says Paul Njorge, one of the two firemen leading the demo show in the main square of Ruiru.
The PCPM Foundation has opened and equipped a training center in Kiambu, 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.
The demo in Ruiru was attended by dozens of residents who, during a 30-minute training, listened to and watched basic instructions on how to put out a fire.
“The general knowledge of our residents about fire and its dangers is very, very little. There is a lack of basic knowledge, there is a lack of basic fire extinguishing equipment. Today we showed how to put out burning oil and what does pouring water on it lead to,” says Paul Njorge.
“Recent years have seen tremendous growth in Kenya’s fire and rescue services. There are new fire stations, better equipment, training opportunities. However, the needs are much greater. We still lack heavy equipment, people and personal equipment. A huge problem for firefighters across Kenya is also the lack of water,” he adds.
For 9 years of activity in Kenya, PCPM built a fire station in Maukeni County in southern Kenya from scratch, and also supported several dozen other fire stations through staff training and the supply of fire equipment and personal equipment. Another 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 and vocational training system for firefighters, which is unique in the education system in Kenya.
The Polish Center for International Aid Foundation has been supporting the Kenyan fire brigades since 2014. During this time, the number of fire brigades throughout the country has increased from 26 to 71, and the number of firefighters from 450 to over 1,500. The annual PCPM budget for activities in Kenya is approx. 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.