An assessment will be carried out this year to determine the number of additional fire stations Lae City will need.
This follows a series of fires in Lae which drew strong public criticism against the Papua New Guinea Fire Service.
The most recent fire last week destroyed Lae’s Brian Bell Home Center.
In March last year, the PC and JY Woo shop at Eriku was destroyed in a fire.
Months earlier, wholesaler Rabtrad’s large warehouse of goods went up in another fire.
Ten months later and just a few days into the new year, a fire which started at Lae’s G4S headquarters spread to the neighboring Niugini Wholesale Drug warehouse.
The total amount of damage to the businesses is estimated to be in the millions.
Last week, the Brian Bell Home Center, was destroyed in the second major fire this year; the second in the space of a month.
What has become apparent is the Papua New Guinea Fire Service’s limited resources and their inability to effectively handle fire emergencies. The public has been merciless in their criticism of the service.
“We arrived well before the Fire Service,” said a senior police officer. “The building could have been saved.”
“Should we blame the fire service?” says Russell Gardner, a Lae businessman who was at the scene.
The Papua New Guinea Fire Service, meanwhile, has agreed that they have limited equipment as well as a limited presence in a city that is growing. This year the service will be conducting a standard of fire cover assessments to determine how many fire stations will be needed in Lae City.
“Directions have been issued for a “Standard of Fire Cover Assessment” to be conducted,” said Chief Fire Officer, Isaac Silas. “Without sounding pre-emptive, Lae could have two additional fire stations.”
The news comes as Lae experiences new industrial growth. While one part of the city can be adequately covered by the existing fire station, the service cannot provide effective fire cover for industrial spots which would take at least 20 minutes for the fire fighters respond.
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