Last year the county bought 3 fire engine trucks at a cost of Sh7 million, and over the weekend they were put to the test. However, the equipment used had striking similarities to the machine used to clean vehicles at car washes.
Following uproar on social media, the county government released this statement.
CLARIFICATION ON FIRE INCIDENT AT TENWEK
I have watched a video doing rounds in social media with the subject being the County Government of Bomet fire engines and personnel fighting fire in Tenwek community on Friday.
The issues raised by commentators are that the truck and hose pipe are small and that the firemen didn’t have proper gear.
The issue of the size of the hose pipe is immaterial. In matters firefighting, it’s about the pressure of water from the engine not the amount of water gushing out. From the video, it’s clear enough that the pressure was high and the flames were doused in good time.
As to the size of our fire engines; the nature of one’s locality determines size to a big extent. There are no many high-rise buildings in Bomet County as of now. The tallest buildings are 5 stories and are not more than 3 in number. Our ladders and hose can manage a fire that high with ease. Our trucks are mid-size; (there are smaller trucks, even vans fitted with fire engines in use elsewhere in Kenya). Bomet County is largely a rural community with numerous market centers and two towns. Accessibility to most areas in case of emergency is limited. A bigger truck will find it hard to access rural homesteads and markets. Homes are not necessarily build along tarmac roads, most are deep in the farms. Worldwide; smaller trucks are gaining currency in this kind of setting.
We also have a very limited budget. A conventional fire engine costs around 52 million. We bought three trucks at a total cost of KShs 21 million and intend to buy three more in the next financial year so that each sub-county can have one thus reducing response time to 10 minutes. International standards however is less but attainable in the near future when every ward will have a fire engine.
For the time being however, having three mid-size fire engines is better than having one big one. There’s no instance of failing to response because of the engine having mechanical issues.
As to the gear; our disaster team have proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and are properly trained. I have inquired as to why some were not properly attired on the said date and was informed they were participating in a drill in Longisa area and when the emergency was reported, they didn’t have time to pass by their headquarters to pick their gear. We have however taken measures to ensure that the oversight doesn’t recur.
In spite of that, they did a good job in Tenwek like they have done in previous fire incidents most recent of which were in Siwot Secondary School and in a homestead in Chebole. Their response time was also good; they were able to get to Tenwek in less than 15 minutes from the time they got the report and prevented the fire from spreading to nearby buildings.
The deployment was also commendable as a water bowser and an ambulance were on standby to replenish the water in the engines and to respond to any medical emergency respectively.
The County Government of Bomet will on Monday offer recovery support to the affected family. We are sorry for the incident.
Director of Communication
County Government of Bomet