- Posted July 23, 2012 by
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This iReport is part of an assignment:
Challenges of the Phnom Penh Fire Department
- stein0726, CNN iReport producer
The local fire departments have recently acquired more sophisticated units to deal with the challenges of a rapidly growing city. Some of the trucks, however can only be utilized for larger streets. The smaller trucks can navigate some of the narrow roads, but many of Phnom Penh’s inhabitants live in back alley structures behind frontage buildings and no vehicle can access them. Most are make shift shanties built of wood. The only possible salvation is a strong blast of water from the fire engine. The firemen fire blindly into the flames to hoping to hit the inaccessible areas. To go into some of the back alleys would be a trap. People cook with gas, and there is the threat of a tank exploding.
On the scene there is also the logistics of cycling in the water trucks through the narrow roads. They have to navigate neighbors who have taken their own initiative to spray water on their buildings in hopes that the fire will be contained before spreading to their homes. Personal possessions line the road, and in the case of this fire, one of the buildings was a clinic. Hospital beds and furniture on the sidewalk across the street narrow mobility. Others jeopardize their personal safety as they throw possessions onto the street up until the last possible moments before the fire has engulfed their home.
Over the last ten years, Phnom Penh’s fire fighters have more equipment and better response times than in the past, but the men and women who fight fires in this city still face difficult challenges that will remain despite the rapid growth and development of this vibrant city.