Short of fire gear

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By Alphonse Porau
THE PNG Fire Service says it will face difficulties in dealing with emergencies in high-rise buildings because it lacks the proper equipment and resources, an official says.
Deputy chief fire officer Bill Roo said they needed big ladder trucks during rescue operations in high-rise building and for search and rescue if a building collapsed due to seismic activity.
He was responding to queries from The National on how prepared the Fire Service was to deal with emergencies in high-rise buildings especially in Port Moresby as the country prepares to host the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Summit and associated meetings.
“All the trucks we have fire-fighting capabilities and some have rescues capabilities. But we need ladder trucks to assist in high-rise building rescues and urban search and rescue capability if a building collapsed,” he said.
“PNGFS does not have high-angle rescue capability and currently relies on the fire safety requirement compliances in high-rise buildings and premises that have high risk facilities.”
Roo said the Fire Service currently had 14 stations and 16 trucks – four in NCD, two in Lae and Mt Hagen, and one each in other centres. He said the trucks were between 10 to 15 years older and need to be replaced.
He said the developments taking place had overtaken their capability to deliver adequately, and what was needed now was their capability to meet the standard of development.
An official said firefighters had been trained with basic rescue and fire-fighting skills with the training equipment they had. But there is still a lot to be learned, especially with high-rise buildings.
Patrick Russel, the Chief Superintendent of Training and Community Safety, said firefighters were assisting with whatever they had to conduct rescue operations.
“The firefighters will not stand back and look but will try to do something with whatever resources we have,” he said.
“But I dare the day that somebody might get hurt because we don’t have proper equipment and resources to perform rescues on high-rise buildings.”
He said they had submitted proposals and were waiting for a response from the Government.

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