Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Fighting Fire in Kabul

By Wahidullah Amani in Kabul (ARR No. 111, 24-Mar-04)
By IWPR

Ghulam Farooq Khuram, the head of the telephone service in the capital, told IWPR that staff at the telecommunications ministry recently had to join the battle against a fire in their basement, with several being affected by the smoke.


Kabul fire chief Khalil Rahman conceded that the ministry staff helped, but insists his men took the lead in fighting the fire. Three firefighters requiree medical attention as a result, he said.


Rahman agrees, however, that his department lacks a lot of the basic equipment that it needs to protect the city adequately. He said his department lacks respiratory equipment and masks, water pumps, powered extension ladders, ropes and communications systems.


Only three out of the five fire stations in the capital are operational, although a fourth is currently being repaired with Canadian help.


Outside the capital, General Mohammad Dawood Askaryar, the head of the national fire service, said firefighting capacity had been restored in three border towns – Hairatan in the north and Tor Ghundi and Islam Qala in the west. He said fire services would be improved in 13 provincial centres in the next 12 months.


Askaryar noted that firefighters in Kabul have been receiving training from members of the international peacekeeping forces, and he is hopeful that the country's firefighting academy will reopen soon.


Wahidullah Amani is an independent journalist in Kabul.