The Kenya National Fire Brigade Association (KENFIBA) wants youth to enlist as volunteer firefighters to bridge the shortfall of staff in the country.
KENFIBA which is the umbrella of the firefighters asked the young population irrespective of their gender to join the recruitment drive to gain the necessary skills in helping their communities in times of a fire disaster.
Secretary General Francis Omolo urged the youth to join the firefighting team on a voluntary basis to boost the numbers of professionals in the sector who at the moment were overwhelmed.
He said the country is struggling with a merger of 1,330 professional firefighters against a population of at least 52 million as the capacity of major towns to deal with fire disasters remained wanting due to the shortfall.
“The country’s manpower is not adequate and it means that to control fire at its initial stages proves difficult due to the poor numbers of firefighters,” Omolo said.
He cited Nairobi with over six million residents relying on only 470 firefighters to cover the vast and densely populated area hence the need to engage the youth in disaster response to save lives and property in time.
Omolo decried that the county government lacked the capacity to purchase enough fire engines hence the need to empower the majority of the local communities with the skills and knowledge to tackle unfolding disasters within their locality before the experts responded.
He encouraged the youth to enlist saying some of them may end up being absorbed into mainstream professions whenever vacancies arose depending on their experience in the field.
Omolo said the body was working on modalities to provide the volunteers with the necessary equipment to contain the spread of the fire as the first respondents at the scene before it spreads.
He urged stakeholders including state actors to take the matter seriously saying the economy of major cities and towns was at stake unless proper mechanisms were put to address related disasters.
“You can imagine how seriously the developed countries have taken this issue and they have invested heavily in firefighting operations including fire engines, fire helicopters, and fire boats to contain disasters in all land air and water,” he said.