The Sunday News
Fire hydrants serve as an essential part of the firefighting process, as they allow firefighters to access a steady flow of water supply during an operation.
Experts describe fire hydrants as devices that firefighters use to get water from the water supply. Hydrant valves control the flow of water from the water source to the fire hydrants, then to service networks that connect the water mains to buildings. A hydrant is thus an important component of active firefighting, therefore it is important that fire hydrants are not obstructed and are kept in good working order.
It therefore becomes apparent that there is a constant check or servicing of fire hydrants at all key areas, so that in the event of a fire, fire tenders are able to execute their job and save properties and human life.
Last week, Plumtree’s 52-bed Kombani Lodge was razed by an inferno that started as a veld fire near a Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID) depot before a whirlwind lifted burning debris, which landed on the grass-thatched lodge.
Media reports said the situation was worsened by the non-functional fire hydrants at the lodge while the 5 000-litre Plumtree Town Council fire tender made multiple trips after running out of water.
We note that if the fire hydrants at the lodge were continuously given attention, the situation could have turned out to be better.
The value of the lost property could not be ascertained last night but acting Plumtree Town secretary, Mr Thembalami Nyoni, said damage was extensive as they only managed to salvage a few assets like television sets and beds from some rooms.
Nonetheless, the damage has already been done at the lodge, what is key now is taking lessons from the accident and making sure that the same mistakes are not repeated. There have been many other instances across the country where fire tenders have been hindered from saving properties due to the malfunction of hydrants, which makes the issue of servicing fire hydrants important.
It is also important that all small town have fire tenders. There have been incidents in places like Tsholotsho and other small centres where property gets lost to fire, as there are is no firefighting equipment.
Recently, there was hullabaloo when Tsholotsho Rural District Council bought a state-of-the-range Toyota Twin Cab vehicle at a time when the local authority has had a number of buildings razed by infernos due to the unavailability of a fire tender.
Media reports said in the last seven years, property worth thousands of US dollars was destroyed by fire at Tsholotsho Business Centre, with the local authority sending an SOS to the Bulawayo City Council, 115km away for fire tenders which would arrive more than three hours later with massive damage already done.
In 2015, a local businessman and Tsholotsho Football Club owner, Mandla Manyathela, lost property worth more than US$300 000 after his supermarket and butchery were gutted by fire. Five years later, Family Choice Supermarket was also razed and in March this year, a Better Schools Programme of Zimbabwe building had its entire roof and property inside completely destroyed following an electrical fault induced fire.