Firefighting knowledge needed as Zimbabwe burns

Saving lives and property from fires

with the Coach

Zimbabwe has recently been ravaged by fires, these events were dotted across the country and have reduced millions worth of property to ashes, in other instances lives have been lost.

Therefore it is fit to inform and educate our readers on the importance of fire prevention and fighting.


It has been noted since time immemorial that prevention is better than cure. As for homes and workplaces, it is very important to take precautionary measures and this could limit the likelihood of fires happening. It is recommended that when not in use, all appliances that may generate heat are always switched off from the mains.

In case of workplaces, all electrical machinery should be switched off at the end of each working day, even during times when electricity is gone.

Another issue is of housekeeping; oil spillages should be cleaned promptly, as could easily catch fire instantly if the necessary elements to start a fire are present.

For a fire to take place three elements namely, heat, fuel, and oxygen should be present, and in their correct proportions.

Putting out a fire

A fire can be extinguished by removing the elements that support combustion, and there are four main types of fire extinguishers, classified by the nature of the fire. In Zimbabwe fire extinguishers are colour coded.

Red extinguisher

This type of extinguisher uses water to put out a fire. Red extinguishers are mainly used for fires that involves ordinary combustibles, such as wood, paper, etc. This type should not be used in oil or electricity ignited fires, if used on oil fires, the flames will intensify because water is heavier than oil, and as such the oil will continue burning above the water.

If used on electrical fires, there is a risk of electrocution, as water is good conductor of electricity.

Yellow/ cream extinguishers

These are used on fires involving flammable liquids such as oil, paraffin, petrol, diesel, etc.

These extinguishers use water mixed with foam elements, the water act as a cooling agent, while the foam helps block the oxygen supply, from the burning oil.

Blue extinguishers

Blue coded extinguishers are basically used to put out electricity based fires. These use dry powder that is composed of silicon and bicarbonate of soda as base, mong other elements.

Black extinguishers

These are multi-purpose extinguishers and are ideal to put out gas and electricity fires. Black extinguishers use carbon dioxide as fire fighting agent. They work by cutting oxygen supply to the fire.

However, the above extinguishers are only precautionary interventions, work well when the fire is relatively small, used to try and put out the fire while awaiting the arrival of the fire brigade. It is always advisable not to endanger one’s life by trying to put out huge and high magnitude fires. Hence the need to notify the fire brigade as soon as possible.

When a fire breaks out it is always advisable to communicate with others, so that it is attended to before it grows. If it is at a workplace, communication is also key so that customers are guided out peacefully without causing a stampede.

After the fire

It is also recommended that the workers from a premise that have been gutted by fire, to assemble at a meeting point and have a roll call carried out. This helps so that when the fire brigade arrives those missing during register calling, are reported to be missing and the firefighters start rescue operations.