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Bulawayo’s fire-fighting expertise enhances through UK partnership

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A model of excellence in fire-fighting in Bulawayo

The Bulawayo Fire Brigade, through a significant partnership with Operation Florian from the United Kingdom, has positioned itself as a leading centre for fire-fighter training and capacity building within Zimbabwe and the wider southern region.

This collaboration has not only enhanced the brigade’s service quality but also made it a trusted emergency response team across the southern parts of the country.

The brigade’s notable achievements include successfully extinguishing a massive fire at the Treger Products manufacturing unit in Belmont, safeguarding millions of dollars’ worth of property.

In gratitude, Treger Products refurbished the brigade’s kitchen and donated new appliances and dining furniture.

International training and equipment donations

A delegation from the UK Fire and Rescue Service charity, consisting of 21 members, is currently in Bulawayo to train 150 fire-fighters from the Bulawayo City Council and other local authorities.

This initiative is part of an ongoing effort to enhance the brigade’s rapid response capabilities, supported by the donation of three additional fire tenders from Operation Florian.

This brings the total to 20 fire tenders received since the partnership began in 2011.

According to Mrs Sikhangele Zhou, the city’s chamber secretary, the programme has trained over 800 fire-fighters, including personnel from Botswana and Zambia, and has been instrumental in securing critical equipment and technical expertise.

Broadening horizons through education and collaboration

The partnership has expanded to include a collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire, introducing fire-fighting and management courses to future UK fire-fighters.

This relationship aims to foster long-term connections between Bulawayo and international fire-fighting professionals.

Mrs Zhou highlighted the comprehensive nature of the training, attracting participants from across Zimbabwe and contributing to the brigade’s competitive edge.

Despite challenges, such as the emigration of skilled fire-fighters to more lucrative positions abroad, the programme is seen as a vital component of the brigade’s ongoing success and community contribution.

 Strengthening community and regional safety

Acting chief fire officer Mr Mhlangano Moyo emphasised the brigade’s role in enhancing regional fire-fighting capabilities, with fire-fighters from ten other local authorities benefiting from the training.

The brigade’s high demand, combined with access to the latest fire-fighting equipment, underscores its reputation as a leading emergency service provider.

The initiative has also sparked similar educational projects in neighbouring countries, further extending the benefits of the partnership beyond Zimbabwe’s borders.

IFSJ Comment

The Bulawayo Fire Brigade’s partnership with Operation Florian and the subsequent training and equipment donations represent a significant stride towards improving fire safety and emergency response capabilities in Zimbabwe and the surrounding region.

By fostering relationships with international partners and extending training opportunities to other local authorities, Bulawayo is paving the way for a more resilient and capable emergency response network across Southern Africa.

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