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Fire Service Team in Botswana

Discuss about the Critical analysis of Fire Safety Legislation of Botswana.

Fire outbreak is one of the potential risks that any organization may face anytime especially when there are no established measures of preventing or dealing with fire hazards. Various organizations have taken the initiative of equipping their organizations with fire fighting machines. Others have gone an extra mile and trained their employees about fire hazards, especially on how they should act when there is a fire emergency. All nations have fire safety regulations that provide guidance on fire prevention, evacuation, and fire fighting. The country of interest in this paper is Botswana which is my main place of work. Carrying out a critical analysis of the fire safety regulation in Botswana will aid in understanding its adequacy for life safety, and how this relates to the general property or asset protection, and reduction in business interruption.

Botswana has a fire service team which comprises of fire brigades and is responsible for the control and prevention of fires in the country. This service forms parts of the Unified Local Government Service (ULDS). The Fire Service Act of 1996 is enforced by the local authorities. The service is headed by a director, a public offer whose duties include regulation and coordination of fire brigades in Botswana. The Fire Safety Legislation of Botswana is adequate in ensuring life safety. The fire service of Botswana has ensured that every council area has a fire brigade with the necessary equipment, and trained personnel to respond to fire outbreaks (Government of Botswana, 2005). Also, the fire service ensures that there is adequate provision of water supplies. Each council ensures that there is adequate water supply available for use when necessary. Various councils have entered into an agreement for water authorities under the recommendations of the Waterworks Act (The World Law Guide (WLG), 2016). This has enabled fire brigades in each council to have access to water when necessary. Under the provisions of the Waterworks Act, the fire brigade is required to replace the water of pay compensation for the water used thereof.

Regarding the availability and response of fire fighting officers, Botswana’s fire officers are always ready for duty always and may at any time respond to a duty call. Botswana’s Statute Law, Volume 89, under fire prevention, requires every officer, at all times, to perform the duties allocated to him/her effectively and to fulfill the specific or general orders issued by the director of the fire brigade under which he/she operates. The duty of every fire officer is to act within all his power towards protecting persons, and property in case of fire outbreak.  Most importantly, fire and police officers in Botswana may break into any business premise where fire has broken out for the purpose of extinguishing fire even without the consent of the occupier or the owner. This is to ensure the evacuation of the property and people in such premises. This is an indication of the responsiveness and alertness of the Botswana fire service according to the provisions of the Fire Safety Act of the country.

Adequacy of Fire Safety Legislation of Botswana


Besides, the safety measures employed by fire brigades in Botswana ensure that fire outbreaks in any building are contained. Obeng (2001) asserts that any fire brigade officer, in regard to fire prevention, can obtain and assemble information concerning the quality of buildings and property in the area, the availability of water, means of accessing property and premises, and any other local situation. This is to provide advice concerning property and buildings for the aim of fire prevention, inspection and escape in case of fire purposes. Such data collection on buildings and property, as well as inspection is important for fire prevention and in the case of fire, successful and on time fire fighting to ensure the safety of persons and property. The Fire Safety Legislation of Botswana inspects buildings to ascertain their quality and equipment, the ventilation systems, and presence of fire extinguishing equipment. These are taken into account regarding the alleviation of fire outcomes. According to IAEA (2004), buildings are expected to have adequate access and escape routes for the field operators or fire fighters. Such routes should not have combustible materials. The legislation provides that the layout of premises should regard the prevention of the spread of fire, and smoke from neighboring fire cells to the access or escape routes. Also, ventilation systems should not compromise the availability of unnecessary safety systems. Such conditions on the nature of buildings are tackled in the fire risk analysis (Botswana Law Revision Commissioner, 2007).

However, the Fire Safety Legislation of Botswana has not done enough towards the prevention and response to fire outbreak. Despite the fact that it has equipment for fire fighting and a ready trained response team, in several occasions, many businesses such as supermarkets lose their properties in fire outbreaks due to the delay of fire brigades. The legislation has failed to demand that all premises and organizations should train their employees on fire prevention and fighting. Only a few large organizations in Botswana have done so. In other workplaces, there are only one or two fire extinguishers, which are not enough to contain fire. The legislation should therefore ensure that all workplaces train their workers on fire prevention and fighting as a way of minimizing deaths and property loss in the event of fire. Also, most of the portable fire extinguishers in Botswana are not approved by the Botswana Bureau of Standards. This is according to a recent press release which advised fire service providers to ensure that their equipment are approved by the bureau by the 1st October 2016.

The Fire Safety Legislation of Botswana, also known as the Fire Service Act has worked to ensure fire prevention through the provision of necessary equipment and have responsive and trained personnel to contain fire hazards. The fire service officials inspect the layout and quality of buildings to ascertain whether they have a safe escape and access routes in the event of fire. Also, fire brigades in each council area ensure that there is sufficient water supply and equipment for responding to fire outbreaks. This has minimized business interruptions due to power outbreaks, reduced the destruction of property, and loss of lives. Though the legislation has not demanded the training of workers on fire prevention in every organization, it is adequate in life safety and property protection.

References

Botswana. (2005). Statute Law, Volume 89. Government Printer

Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOS). Press release; implementation of fire safety standards. Retrived from file:///C:/Users/Winnie/Downloads/Press%20Release%20-%20Implementation%20of%20Fire%20Safety%20Standards.pdf

Botswana. Law Revision Commissioner. (2007). The laws of Botswana: LRO 1/2007 (up to and including Act 22 of 2006 and S.I. 96 of 2006). Republic of Botswana

Fire Service Act. (1996). CHAPTER: 40:04 An Act to provide for the creation of a Fire Service for Botswana. Volume VII. Retrieved from https://www.elaws.gov.bw/desplaylrpage1.php?v=VII&vp=&id=1246

Government of Botswana (GOB). (2005). Act 14; National Security Act. CHAPTER 23:01. Retrieved from https://www.vertic.org/media/National%20Legislation/Botswana/BW_National_Security_Act.pdf

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). (2004). protection against internal fires and explosions in the design of nuclear power plants. Safety standards series, No. NS-G-1.7. Retrieved from https://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/Pub1186_web.pdf

Obeng, K. E. (2001). Botswana: institutions of democracy and government of Botswana. Botswana: K.E. Obeng

The World Law Guide (WLG). (2016). Legislation of Botswana. WEB. Retrieved from https://www.lexadin.nl/wlg/legis/nofr/oeur/lxwebot.htm

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