Fix damaged fire hydrants

Editorial

THERE should be one fire hydrant easily accessible every 100 metres on the streets of Port Moresby.
Unfortunately, that is not the case.
A fire hydrant is an important component of active fire protection.
Fire hydrants may not be among major concerns now, but they should be community concerns, especially in densely populated areas.
A female firefighter was punched in the face by a by-stander as she went down the street in search of a fire hydrant last Thursday in Port Moresby.
Had there been fire hydrants accessible, she would not have been assaulted.
This newspaper ran several reports of fires, fire safety and fire hydrants, but they don’t seem to matter much, with the fire service and firefighters continuing to bear the brunt of criticisms over the lack of fire-safety capabilities in our cities and towns.
Why should that be?
Firefighters need water to do their job.
Even though they do carry some in their fire engines, at the scene, what they need is a fire hydrant and one that works.
Any fire officer in charge of a fire engine approaching a fire – in an area where the risk of fire spreading is great – would do his best to get that fire under control with the limited capacity of water that is available to him or seek to quickly supplement that resource from a fire hydrant or any other source easily available to him.
But when fire hydrants don’t work, what’s going to happen next?
In the meantime, the fire is consuming everything in its path.
Valuable time is lost and property – and even life – is put at risk.
The million-kina question is who is responsible for the fire hydrants?
PNG Fire Service says that because it hasn’t been consulted much, Port Moresby fire hydrants often end up getting buried during the construction of roads.
The two entities, PNG Fire Service and Eda Ranu, should always be consulted before construction work starts.
All buildings should have a hydrant at least 30 metres away and should have internal fire hydrants as well.
Regular fire trucks at a station can carry a capacity of 1,800 litres of water and they are exhausted within five to 10 minutes.
That is why fire hydrants are critical in our efforts to prevent fires from spreading and inflicting heavy damage or destruction.
Chief Fire Officer Bill Roo explained that many settlements mushrooming in and around the city did not have proper water supply and fire hydrants installed and thus, posed a big fire risk.
He said the challenges, particularly faced by firemen in responding to a fire call included traffic congestions, roads that were inaccessible and locations of some streets and settlements were not clearly indicated or found on maps.
The fire service has been neglected for at least 40 years and the lack of investment in fire safety is costing the country and its people much.
In other countries, the fire service is given high priority because of the important duty they do to save lives and properties.
It is time city authority National Capital District Commission and water company Water PNG do something to fix the problem of Port Moresby’s buried fire hydrants.
Fire hydrants are important components of our communities, especially in populated areas where fetching water may be stalled by traffic and other road obstructions.
It now appears that the vital fire safety infrastructure that all residents rely on has been neglected.
Let’s do something before it’s too late.

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