by Sylvester Gawi – EM TV, Lae
The Papua New Guinea Fire Service in Mt Hagen says it lacks appropriate equipment to attend to fire emergencies.
Its business community has also raised concerns over the state of the fire station and its ability to combat fires.
These concerns were raised following a fire that destroyed eight shops in the centre of Mt Hagen.
Over the last five years, the Mt Hagen Fire Service has received little assistance from the provincial government.
Its aging infrastructures have been allowed to fall apart, despite the city experiencing massive growth in business.
Business houses and owners in Mt Hagen are concerned about inadequate equipment at the fire station.
There are also concerns about its capacity and preparedness to combat fire emergencies in the city.
Daniel Dokta who owns the Komkui Haus, watched from his rooftop as the buildings were destroyed by fire on Wednesday night.
The fire station has only two fire trucks; one is in good condition while the other has been around for about three decades.
The recent fire in Mt Hagen has brought to light the inabilities of the fire brigade, in putting out fires and also in rescue efforts.
Like nearly every other fire stations around the country, the Mt Hagen has its backlog of problems.
Deteriorating infrastructures, lack of safety equipment and fire trucks are problems faced by firefighters.
The Fire Service has been left to struggle with poor funding support and resources.
The little funding they get from the provincial government is insufficient to cater for the maintenance of its existing facilities.
It has 22 firefighters, however equipment shortage has been a problem for many of them.
So far there have been three major fires in Mt Hawithin a space of six months.
The recent fire that burnt down eight shops was also a loss for many farmers in the highlands region.
One of the shops that got burnt was Chemica, a leading agricultural supplier for many farmers.
With Mt Hagen and Western Highlands will be developed into the agriculture hub of Papua New Guinea, the loss is affecting farmers in a big way.
Business houses say PNG Fire Service is a vital organisation in the nation’s development and it should be maintained with consistent funding support from the government.
Fires at big cities like Port Moresby, Lae and Mt Hagen clearly show the lack of consideration the Fire Service gets from the provincial governments.