The Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue service has improved fire fighting in Kenya with a donation of retired fire engines and equipment.
A delegation of Kenyan officials from Tharaka Nithi County, located in the centre of the country, visited BFRA’s Kempston headquarters for an official handover.
His Excellency, Honourable Samuel Ragwa, the Governor of Tharaka Nithi County said: “I would like to thank the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority Chairman and the Chief Fire Officer for their continued assistance to communities in Kenya. This generous support will continue to strengthen the capacity of our local firefighters and make Tharaka Nithi County a safer community.”
The Governor invited Chief Fire Officer Paul Fuller and transport and engineering manager Raymond Willett to visit his county later this year to better understand the needs of their Kenyan colleagues.
Tharaka Nithi County covers some of the poorest parts of Kenya and lies about 70km from Meru Town. It has limited financial resources as national government allocations are given according to the population size of the area.
Tharaka has an existing Fire Service with one old fire appliance, which is limited in its fire fighting capacity, and struggles to deal with building of several storeys.
The relationship between BFRS and Meru began in 2009 when Fredrick Akandi and the Onset Trust, a church related charity in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, approached BFRS for assistance in purchasing a fire appliance to send to Meru, which, despite a population of 500,000, had no Fire Service at that time and where fire deaths were common.
The Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority (BFRA) decided instead to donate a fully equipped fire engine that was being decommissioned along with additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the form of tunics, leggings, boots, and helmets, and much more in the way of operational equipment.
Ten new firefighters were recruited and trained and are still serving at Meru.
To date, Kenyan authorities have taken delivery of four fire engines, one water carrier and a disaster response vehicle, and more than over 60 complete sets of firefighting Breathing Apparatus (BA) and uniforms.
Chief Fire Officer Paul Fuller said “It is important that our own appliances and equipment are kept up to date and inevitably our older vehicles have to be disposed of. We have a simple philosophy that lifesaving equipment which may no longer be of use here may continue to save lives for many years to come in Kenya.
“Given the kind invitation from the Governor and his colleagues to visit Kenya we wouldn’t want to offend them by not going to see how our appliances have been used and to help us to understand their needs in the future.”