Nairobi News

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Extra powers for fire department

City Centre.

The Fire Department will soon be given first priority over all accident and disaster scenes once the proposed Fire and Rescue Bill comes into place.

A six-man board will be formed to run the authority, headed by a non-executive chairperson appointed by the Governor.

A chief executive officer will also be appointed, and he or she will double up as the secretary of the board.

Two of the board members must have worked in the fire and rescue services sector, while the private sector will also be allocated a representative.

The last slot will be reserved for an association representing the interests of firemen, likely to be from the Kenya National Fire Brigades Association (Kenfiba).

The board is expected to source and receive funding for the activities of the authority, recruitment of personnel and ensuring the long term viability of the authority is protected.

Kenya Law Reforms Secretary General Joash Dache is expected later this month to chair a meeting with the various stakeholders in the firefighting business to refine the Bill before it is presented to the Attorney General.

Under the proposed Bill, the Fire and Rescue Department will train firemen, sensitise the public on fire prevention and containment in the event of an outbreak.

The Kenya National Fire Brigades Association has welcomed the proposed Bill, saying it will help make the department prevent loss of lives and damage to property and bring it closer to international standards.

“It will empower the fire department and help it achieve its objectives. It will also help create employment for many young people,” said Francis Liech, Kenfiba Secretary General.

The organisation, however, believes the document has still not addressed a few crucial firefighting issues.

“More hydrants are still required. Some people also use water in the hydrants when there is a shortage and that makes them liable to prosecution,” he said.

Kenfiba also wants fire investigation to be handed by the authority instead of the police.

“Many a time, they blame fires on electrical faults yet that may not be the case,” he added.