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Provision of training and equipment for Fire Brigade units in Kenya

Kenya is developing rapidly. This can be seen not only in the many investments in the construction or telecommunications industry but also in the high level of urbanisation. Residents of rural areas are inclined to look for work in cities more often, leading to thriving growth in services. New residential districts, large shopping centres and small local businesses are constantly cropping up.

To a large extent, this development is uncontrolled, particularly in unofficial districts, creating a severe risk of natural or man-made disasters. Tragic events such as fires, floods, mudslides and road accidents require strong, transparent and cohesive procedures of prevention and response as well as properly trained rescue personnel. A few years ago, the fire brigade and emergency units in Kenya were still completely unprepared for such challenges, as there was no system of vocational training for firefighters.

In 2014, the Polish Centre for International Aid Foundation implemented its first project to benefit the Kenyan fire service, co-financed from the funds of Polish development cooperation. The current project is a continuation of these measures. Thanks to training and specialist equipment, the effectiveness and level of professional skills of firefighters is improving significantly. Experience has shown that projects supporting the development of fire service structures and emergency service structures, implemented with the help of Polish funds, have helped to mobilise additional funds from the Kenyan authorities. The Polish aid funds elicit investments made by local authorities in the construction and renovation of watchtowers. More firefighters are hired, and specialist equipment is bought. The already completed measures have visibly and significantly impacted the development of the fire services in Kenya.

Provision of training and equipment for Fire Brigade units in Kenya

The measures are planned for the years 2017–2018. The general aim of the project is to build the institutional capacity of the fire service in Kenya. The two-year module project will make it possible to carry out a comprehensive series of training sessions for firefighting units, both at the basic and advanced levels.

The project has three main components:

  1. classroom training in fire service headquarters that have the appropriate equipment and human resources at the basic and advanced levels;
  2. joint training for firefighters from units with a small number of personnel on the basis of the minimum standards for firefighting training, established under this project by KENFIBA – Kenya National Fire Brigade Association, at basic and intermediate levels, and rope rescue;
  3. improving the effectiveness of measures through the preparation of pilot crisis management plans.

The actions implemented in 2017 within Module I of the project included classroom training in the Meru and Kilifi Counties, which have well-staffed firefighting teams and the essential equipment. The personnel from other counties interested in the initiative (Laikipia, Kakamega, Kajiado, Nyeri and Makueni), was too scarce to be included in an independent training programme and so took part in joint activities organised by the pilot centre for basic firefighting training, established in Kiambu County. Altogether, 25 courses on the basic and intermediate level were carried out in firefighting, medical rescue as well as rope and sea rescue, consisting of more than 1,300 hours of instruction.

In order to provide appropriate educational facilities and decent conditions for the participants of the pilot training centre, a fire obstacle course had to be built and also places for simulation of individual fire situations. Equipment essential for conducting classes had to be purchased, in combination with support for the accommodations and bathroom facilities. In addition, two compressors were purchased, thanks to which Kenyan firefighters were able to use quads. Other significant support for the local fire department was financing the dispatch and customs duty for sending a container from the US with used firefighting equipment.

The project also included the development, in cooperation with the Kenya National Fire Brigade Association, of uniform procedures and minimum standards of training for the whole country. The initiative addressed the many problems arisen from the fact that the Kenyan fire brigade is not a centralised uniform service, but is subordinated to the authorities of the individual counties, which do not coordinate activities between themselves.

The actions carried out in 2018 within Module II will be an expansion and continuation of the initiatives taken in 2017. The teams from Meru and Kilifi Counties and the course participants of the pilot centre for basic firefighting training will take part in classes at the intermediate and advanced level. Two compressors will be purchased for use with quads by other counties.

An important element of the 2018 actions complementing building institutional capacity of the Kenyan fire brigade, will be the development of integrated crisis planning, enabling different public services to join a rescue operation. Currently, only in Machakos is there a joint alarm telephone, in other counties not only the fire services, ambulance and the police but also individual fire stations and units do not have a universal contact number. The project provides support for three counties in developing a crisis response plan, acquainting representatives of local authorities and the Kenya National Fire Brigade Association with Polish schemes during the week-long study visit to Poland.

The Polish Aid grant was PLN 919,380 in 2017 and PLN 908,015 in 2018, while the project’s value reached PLN 1,025,830 in 2017 and PLN 1,026,865 in 2018.

Provision of training and equipment for Fire Brigade units in Kenya

In Module 1 of the project, more than 400 people (firefighters and rescuers) took part in classroom training conducted in the counties Kilifi, Meru and Kiambu. During the pilot training-centre activities for firefighters from various regions, 72 people were trained; of these, 63 passed the examination conducted in accordance with the minimum training standards drawn up by the Kenya National Fire Brigade Association (KENFIBA).

Altogether, more than 25 training courses were conducted at the basic and intermediate levels on firefighting, emergency medical care as well as rope and sea rescue. The training courses totalled more than 1,300 hours of classes. The fire brigades also received firefighting equipment and personal equipment, altogether worth over USD 1 million.

Thanks to the measures carried out under Module 1, not only were the firefighters able to strengthen their knowledge and put it into practice, but they were also able to expand it to include new issues. The results of the project benefitted 13 counties with a total of 12 million inhabitants.