The Bulawayo Fire and Ambulance Department has had its disaster preparedness state greatly enhanced by its partnership with Operation Florian volunteer firefighters, who are in the country for the third time in as many years, providing equipment and capacity building.
The council has stopped relying on a water tender donated by Queen Elizabeth in 1991 to having 13 newly refurbished vehicles as a result of this partnership.
The City of Bulawayo’s Fire and Emergency Rescue Services Department has been failing to service the city after the closure of two of its stations, leaving only two functional.
This has led to loss of lives and property in the city and surrounding areas as the city is the backbone of Matabeleland’s emergency disaster response system.
All this, though is set to be a thing of the past with the assistance of Operation Florian, a humanitarian charity organisation from the United Kingdom whose skills transfer and donation of nine fire fighting vehicles in the past two years and an additional four tenders this week has enabled the council to reopen the Nkulumane and Northend Fire Stations.
Bulawayo City Council Fire and Ambulance Services chief fire officer, Richard Petersen, said the city has fully recovered from its near collapse state to being the best equipped and trained fire and ambulance department in the country following the three-year partnership with Operation Florian.
The chairperson of Operation Florian, Michael Doherty, explained that his humanitarian charity organisation assists fire and rescue services throughout the world who are in need of assistance and that much of their work concentrates on disaster re-building work.
Operation Florian team leader, Tony Burscough, said he has already seen the Bulawayo Fire Brigade team in action three times since Thursday and is impressed with the improvements.
Resident Daniel Bhebhe, who has lost property in a fire, said the closure of Nkulumane and Northend Fire Stations, leaving the whole city being covered by only two had compromised the department’s response times to disaster areas and the reopening of these two stations this week is evidence that the partnership is bearing fruit.
Other local authorizes and companies that have been invited by the BCC to be trained by Operation Florian include Victoria Falls, Hwange Colliery and Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority.