Keetmanshoop Municipality refutes fire response allegations

22 Mar 2016 20:10pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 22 MAR (NAMPA) – The Keetmanshoop Municipality refuted claims that its fire department failed to appropriately respond to a fire that engulfed a large family home in the Noordhoek suburb Saturday morning.
Nampa reported over the weekend that the fire started around 09h00 according to eyewitnesses, while claims were also made that the fire brigade arrived over an hour after being summoned to the burning home.
On Tuesday, municipality Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Desmond Basson issued a statement, expressing his dismay over the “unfounded allegations” regarding the conduct and training of the local fire brigade.
Bystanders had accused the firefighters of being unprepared and untrained, and further said the first fire truck ran out of water very quickly.
Basson said investigations into the matter Tuesday morning raised no flags to suspect negligence or misconduct on the part of the fire brigade.
He said the emergency office received its first call to the incident at exactly 10h31. Two minutes later, the office alerted Chief Fire Officer George Joseph, who in turn dispatched three firefighters and one volunteer to the scene.
Basson said the firefighters arrived at the scene within 25 minutes of receiving the instruction from Joseph.
The firefighters reported that the fire was already at inferno status and too far gone when they arrived at the house.
Basson said a second truck was brought in to assist and that both vehicles were full of water.
“The fire trucks are always parked full of water, ready for emergencies. It was not the water that was a problem but the fact that the fire brigade was contacted too late to be able to save the house,” the CEO said.
He expressed sympathies to the owner and tenants of the house, and also voiced his disappointment at the conduct of bystanders.
“People were verbally abusive and hurled insults at the firefighters. One man went as far as to physically assault one of our officers while he was busy dousing the fire.”
Basson asked the community to refrain from disturbing firefighters in the performance of their duties, while giving assurances to Keetmanshoop residents that the municipality “values the safety and property of its residents”.
Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, Namibian Police spokesman in the //Kharas Region Deputy Commissioner Rudolf Isaak said that investigators were still busy piecing together evidence to determine the cause of the fire.