By Edwin Fidelis – EMTV News, Kokopo
At the Kokopo PNG Fire Station, three fire trucks are parked idle awaiting much-needed maintenance.
The only equipment that is operational is a die-cast Rhino model fire engine, given to the Kokopo fire brigade by the PNG Fire Service in 2008.
The fire station and its crew had to be relocated from the devastated town of Rabaul to Kokopo after the 1994 volcanic eruption, and over the last 20 years its operations have never been beefed up.
The head of the fire brigade, Superintendent Narson Palnava said the station needs an overhaul to its ailing equipment in order to boost their capability to respond swiftly to emergencies all over the province.
“Right now we have only one appliance that is operational, and that is a fire truck. The old equipment is any problem…otherwise, we have the manpower,” Palnava said.
In the heart of Kokopo town, new structures are being built. Businesses are growing never like before.
The general sentiment is that when Kokopo town develops into a city, the fire station has to be upgraded.
“It’s so difficult for us. We cater to three major urban townships in the province; Kerevat, Rabaul Town, Warangoi and Kokopo. That’s a lot for one of us, especially when we are ill equipped,” Palnava said.
The story in Kokopo is no different to the rest of the other emergency services throughout other provinces in Papua New Guinea.
The PNG Fire Service, and their capabilities in regards to immediate response to an event have been wildly criticised.
However, it seems that ailing equipment has been the main hindrance to their work.