Recently at Flare, we've been looking into fire response and how it is coordinated within Nairobi.
Similar to ambulances, we've been asked a lot of questions: Who do I call if there's a fire? Are there actually any fire engines? And what about water hydrants? Fire Stations? Oh and are there trained firefighters?
We've also even received a few calls recently asking for help as someone's house or neighbor's house was on fire. We've also seen a number of news stories recently about major fires which made us equally curious.
We'll give you the facts in this post. Since, we're constantly learning and gathering new information this is our start to putting out the details. We'll continue to update you as we want to help (and may be offering fire services sooner than expected).
Who should I call if there's a fire?
- Technically 999 / 112, however this number is often out of service and does not directly link you to any of the fire providers.
- We suggest using one of the security companies. Check your house or building to see who guards your home, apt or office. A few of the companies that have fire engines and double as security include: KK Security (+254 730 622 000), G4S (+254 714 606 411) and Securex (+254 711 069 999). These are likely the best options.
- Alternate option is to call Nairobi City Council which has a number of engines located in the CBD. Both the Belgians and Japanese have recently helped the City Council upgrade their fleet by adding 8 new engines! Call here for the Nairobi City Council: (+254 726 212 599).
- And lastly, if you're in Thika the very best option is one of our partners - ICT Fire & Rescue: (+254 722 337 776)
Are there any fire engines in Nairobi?
Similar to ambulances the market is highly fragmented and little is known about who owns and operates the engines in the city. Across Kenya, we've found nearly 50 fire engines. The largest fleet is owned by the Kenya Airport Authority which mandates that a certain number of engines are positioned at airports.
So far, we've found Fire engines that are operated by the City Council of Nairobi, Kenya Airport Authority, Private Security Companies and Private Fire-Engine companies (usually double as ambulance companies too!).
The first and main fire station, built in 1907, still stands today and is located in the Central Business District on Tom Mboya St. It is appropriately named Tom Mboya. This is the main fire station for the city. There are 2 other city stations - one in the Industrial Area and another at East African Breweries, however it's often been noted that these are not operational.
Even if there are fire engines, what about water points? I never see hydrants on the corners...
- There are 4,000 water hydrants in the city, but it's unknown which ones are active. Local fire-fighters indicate that they rely on certain hydrants which they know work (less than a handful) and also public water sources such as the pond in Uhuru park or swimming pools like the one at the Intercontinental Hotel.
- The main issue with the hydrants is that many buildings have been constructed on top of them.
- So where do the engines refill with water? Well, sometimes they'll send special water trucks -- Boozers and Clean Water Trucks (yes, those blue trucks in the city labeled "Clean Water") or there have been unfortunate cases of them running out of water.
What's the cost of using fire rescue?
- A fire incident is charged between KSh 25,000 and KSh 70,000 depending on the material and how much is used to extinguish the blaze.
- Make sure to check your house and building insurance in addition to the coverage of services offered from security companies as part or all of the costs may be covered for legitimate fires.
Do fires even happen in Nairobi?
- Common fires include slum fires (mainly due to faulty power connections), chemical Factory Fires, petrol /pipeline fires and school/ dormitory Fires.
- Many fires go unreported or are put out by local communities before an engine can be called.
- Here are a few major fires in Kenya: Oil Tanker Fire Kills 30 Gikoma Blaze Destroys Millions 40 Burnt to Death in Karai 70 Houses destroyed in Mukuru) 100 Killed in Fuel Fire Nairobi Airport on Fire
What should I do NOW?
- Before Flare can enable you with on-demand fire help, start by getting a smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and fire extinguisher for your home and office. You can purchase them here for between 1,000 - 2,500 KSH and here
Want to read more about fires in Nairobi and Kenya, here are some helpful resources: