A firefighter from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has just returned back to the UK after spending two weeks improving fire safety in migrant camps in South Sudan.
Clare Holmes, a watch manager on Rotherham blue watch, was part of a team of six volunteers who were approached by the ‘Women in the Fire Service’ network to visit the camp, after a request they’d received from an aid charity.
During the two week trip, the team provided ‘train the trainer’ courses for United Nations (UN) camp staff which included community fire safety advice and burn and scald prevention information. Clare and the team also carried out a fire safety assessment of the camp, which is occupied by roughly 120,000 people.
Many camps in South Sudan can hold thousands of people living in makeshift accommodation in close proximity to one another, with schools, hospitals and markets all adding to the risk of fire. As well as this, all cooking takes place on open fires and fire service response is limited.
Clare said: “The greatest risk in camps like the one we visited in South Sudan is during the dry season which runs from November to March, so it was important to put into place fire safety measures as soon as possible.
“The community were very receptive to our visit and found the training and advice very beneficial. The site staff that we trained will now be able to pass on fire safety guidance to thousands of people living in the camps and hopefully reduce the risk of a fire starting.
“I hope that our work can make the lives of the people we visited safer for years to come.”
The trip to South Sudan was supported by Fire Aid, a charity which provides donations of fire and rescue equipment and training to those in need of such assistance.
The charity recently visited South Sudan in March 2018 and identified a number of substantial fire risks including a lack of awareness of fire safety. It was from this that Women in the Fire Service were asked to request if any of their members could volunteer for a second visit to the country.
It is hoped there will be a follow up visit in 2019.