THE Fire Services Union of Zambia (FSUZ) has charged that the fire brigade in all the councils across the country will continue to offer poor services to the people because Government had neglected the department which is grappling with a glaring shortage of manpower.
According to records from FSUZ, the deficit is currently standing at over 1,000 fire fighters, a development that has hampered efficient service delivery
FSUZ general secretary Clement Mulenga has told the Daily Nation that despite the union writing to Government in September this year to recruit more fire officers to cushion the inadequacies in the number of fire officers across the country, no response had been given so far even after the lifting of the wage and employment freeze.
He said people should not blame the fire brigade when the officers failed to perform to their expectations because they were understaffed as the number of officers in nearly all the councils did not meet the minimum number required for them to operate effectively.
He said that while the councils were willing to provide the best fire fighting services to the public, the challenge of manpower shortage limited their capacities to execute their operations efficiently.
“We are doing service to the people just like any other Government institution but we are wondering why we are not given the attention that other institutions such as ZNS are given yet people expect more from us.
“We cannot continue operating like this because property and peoples’ lives are at stake each time there is an inferno. Our operations are critical across the country but there is nothing we can do to improve our service if we are understaffed,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Home Affairs Minister Davies Mwila proved futile as his phone went unanswered while his deputy Nicholas Banda had all his mobile lines switched off.