Wednesday 7 June 2023


AN exodus of firefighters has hit the Bulawayo City

Council (BCC) as they are joining other professionals leaving the country in search of the so-called greener pastures.

Acting chief fire officer Linos Phiri said this in an interview with New Ziana on the sidelines of a ceremony to handover refurbished kitchens and dining room furniture to the Bulawayo Fire Brigade station in Fomona suburbs by a local manufacturing company Treger Group.

Local insurer Old Mutual also chipped in and provided tiles for the renovations. Treger Group was appreciating the swift reaction of the city council fire and rescue services which averted a fire in 2021, which could have engulfed property worth millions of dollars at its recycling plant at

The company also kept 10 000 litres of diesel at the plant, but the fire brigade managed to douse the blaze in time, saving the property.

Phiri said brain drain has impacted negatively on the operations of fire and rescue services across the country and Bulawayo has not been spared.

He said despite some operational challenges, they recently received some modern firefighting equipment from partners such as Operation Florian from the United Kingdom but their main headache was brain drain.

“As an emergency service, we are equipped to deal with eventualities in the city because we recently received some equipment from our partners. The main challenge that we are currently experiencing is brain drain.

“We need two years to train a firefighter. We have so far lost close to  30 qualified fire fighters, and we went on to recruit 50 trainees whom we have at the moment,” said Phiri.

Emergency service workers such as paramedics and firefighters are reported to be earning a monthly salary of  over US$3 000 in the Middle East.

Phiri said the current situation has forced them to rely on the services of trainees who are also leaving soon after completing their training.

Turning to ambulances, Phiri said they were currently running a fleet of six for the whole city, against the recommended number of 15, adding that most of the times they are overstretched by demand.

He said they have also roped in the service of other ambulance providers such as Mars and St Johns, to fill the vacuum, adding council was also considering to construct satellite fire stations in Waterford and Cowdray Park to cater for the ever-growing population in the city.

“International standards response time is supposed to be 10 minutes of receiving a distress call,” said Phiri, adding they were awaiting the delivery of new fire tenders from Belarus after last receiving some from the Government in 1987.

-New Ziana


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