How much is Somalia in danger due to lack of firefighting services
One of the most dangerous jobs in this world is to work as a firefighter. For Ali Mohamud Wehliye, this is the job he has eked a living out for more than 11 years.
"I was involved in 503 firefighting incidents," said, Wehliye.
Before the current job, Wehiliye worked as a mechanic. "I started training as a mechanic in 2001 first," Wehliye explains. He notes that his training as a mechanic made it easy for him to switch to his current job as a firefighter.
The risky job coupled with the prevailing security situation in Mogadishu has made him a hero serving the community well. Apart from work, Wehliye sees himself as an individual who is in the business of saving lives and property.
"I have sustained injuries from cuts from iron sheets while fighting a fire," Said, Wehilye.
Need for firefighting services in Somalia
Firefighting services are essential to our daily lives, and there exist property to safeguard. Somalia has always had a shortage of firefighters. This shortage increased with the fall of the central government in 1991. Since 2000, there was a firefighting department in all the respective governments but didn't provide services to the citizens.
Fire in the primary market has razed down assets worth one (1) billion US Dollars. Many lives were lost after fires broke out in residential areas, while many have sustained life-threatening injuries and, on top of many, are still living with physiological trauma from these incidents. It is hard to estimate the value of assets lost in fire incidents in Somalia, but it runs to millions.
Mogadishu ranks high in the number of fire incidents in Somalia as it hosts business premises where there are assets. It is hard to measure the number of times business caught fire, and it was hard to stop till all the assets were destroyed and claimed lives.
What did the first firefighters in Mogadishu do?
Somalia's leading telecom Hormuud established the firefighting service in 2006 after the fall of the government in 1991. "There was no firefighting service in Banaadir region and its environs, and that is why the Firefighting unit of Hormuud was established," said Abdullahi Noor Osman=, the Head of Hormuud- Salaam Foundation.
According to data from the Hormuud Firefighting unit, it successfully took in 532 fires that broke out in the city. "In the past, we provided firefighting services to the Banaadir region, but firefighters from the Banaadir administration also take part in putting out fires," noted Abdullahi.
According to the CEO OF Hormuud Saalam Foundation, close to 70% of the fire incidents in Mogadishu, Elesha Biyaha, and Beled Hawo are responded to by the Hormuud Firefighting unit. Residents in those areas call our toll-free line of 998, he added.
"The most dangerous fire incident that I took part to put out a fire was in the Bakara market where I was inside battling the fire for 24 hours," Said, Ali Mohamud Wehliye who is one of the early recruits of Hormuud firefighting "I feel I am doing my work while at the same time aiding people," said, Wehliye.
While and his team have saved many lives and property that were caught up in fire incidents.
"In the Bakara market, we save the life of an elderly. We also saved two households who were trapped after a fire broke out in their residence. In Souq Bacaad, we also saved an elderly person, a lady, and a young man. In Ali Kaamin we saved a baby who was caught up in the fire," said Wehliye.
The need for firefighting service still exists.
While, entire Somalia desperately needs firefighting services, Mogadishu where the need lies most. Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, which also the main hub of the country's commercial activities, doesn't have adequate firefighting service compared to the current needs.
Mogadishu's increasing population plus the number of new business being set up and also the increase in the number of apartments makes it firefighting services immense. The existing firefighting services are inadequate compared to the needs. "You can feel the weight of the matter when there is only one firefighting center that serves all the 17 districts in Mogadishu that is home to three million people," Abdiqani Mohamed Ahmed, the Director of the Fire Department of the Banaadir, told the BBC in 2019.
The fire spreads out quickly in Mogadishu due to the city's initial planning. During the windy season, the fire quickly spreads. Some of the buildings are made of iron sheets and wood. Public awareness of fire is also very low.
"We educate the public on fire management during the incidents and how they can prevent it," Said, the Head of Hormuud-Salaam Foundation, Abdullahi Osman.