FIRE services union of Zambia secretary general Clement Mulenga has called on Government to speed up construction of the three fire stations to meet the growing demand in Lusaka.
Mr Mulenga in an interview said the three fire stations under construction in Makeni, Chilenje and Chelstone would reduce the pressure on the fire department in meeting the growing demand in Lusaka.
“The fire service will be more effective if the three fire services in Chilenje, Chelstone and Makeni are fully constructed because these are strategic areas. Government must therefore speed up the process of construction,” he said.
Mr Mulenga said Government must also reconstruct the fire service station in Matero which was in a dilapidated state adding that it may at any time collapse and hurt workers especially that the rain season was approaching.
He said Lusaka city had grown hence posing a challenge to the fire fighters especially in some areas which were difficult to access due to their location and poor roads. Mr Mulenga said traffic in the city also posed a challenge as the fire department could sometimes reach the scene of an inferno too late to offer help.
“We have traffic in Lusaka because it has grown, poor roads and some compounds are not accessible by these big trucks we use, so all those are challenges we have and we find that even the response time has also been affected,” he said.
Mr Mulenga also advised citizens from stoning the fire department when they arrived late at a scene because they faced many challenges.
“There are timed when you come from another incidence so it’s not good for the public to take the law into their hands by stoning the fire fighters when the get late to the scene,”“Most of them panic when they have a disaster instead of calling the fire brigade, they call the media so when people reach there earlier than the fire brigade, all they say is that they are late so it’s important that whenever there is a disaster, they should first call the fire brigade who will go there to help,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Mulenga advised members of the union not to panic as salary negotiations were in the process with Government. Mr Mulenga said the negotiations started last Monday and the union would also meet with Government on Tuesday next week for further discussions.
“We would like to appeal to our members to remain calm as we negotiate their salaries because we need peace during the process,” he said.
Mr Mulenga noted that fire fighters deserved better conditions of service as they went through risks during operations of saving lives.