The Papua New Guinea Fire Service is one agency of government that exists on the peripheries of government attention. Its role only comes to the fore during fire emergencies. The current state of the Fire Service is, in itself, a risk to investors. After a series of stories ran on EMTV, a senior Fire Service Officer has come out to talk about some aspects of a complex issue.
A senior fire service officer who did not want to be named says Lae City’s only fire station does not have the ability to adequately contain fires that could happen on tall buildings.
His comments come after a series of 8 major fires in a space of 24 months.
He said the Lae Fire stations does not have a snorkel – a truck with an extending arm designed to put out fires on tall buildings as well as adequate manpower for a city of 500 thousand people.
Over the last 10 years, industrial growth has outpaced the ability of the Papua New Guinea Fire Service to adequately handle fire emergencies. Despite the growth, Lae has only one fire station.
While some improvement has been made in terms of improving equipment, the emergencies that have happened in the last two years have brought to light the inadequacies of the Service.
Senior officers say Lae City needs two more fire stations. At present any new investor in Lae has to seriously consider fire risks and the possibility of losing millions of kina to fires that may not be adequately contained by the Papua New Guinea Fire Service.
Fire emergencies do not always happen every day, but the statistics for Lae alone are alarming. Between 2012 and January 2014, four businesses have suffered major losses from fires that destroyed their properties and at least five families have lost their homes.
A fire victim, Apelis Mapua, who lost his home told EMTV on Tuesday that emergency response times for the Fire service have always been a major issue.
“For our case they didn’t come on time.”
This year, an assessment will be carried out to determine how many more fire stations and what kind of equipment will be needed for Lae. This may take a year, maybe several for the recommendations to be implemented.