A top policeman has begged the government to provide better equipment and
training for firemen after the fire that ravaged Deum Chanh
Captain Dy Eav, 43, head of the police department at Mean Cheay
district, said his force's lack of modern fire engines, hoses and experienced
fighters was a serious problem.
He said: "We have a shortage of
government assistance, our staff aren't trained. They know the theory but they
don't have the practical training.
"They only do what people tell them to
do. It depends on us to tell them what to do."
"We have insufficient
supplies and training, so with this kind of fire we might make mistakes," he
Despite their lack of training, Capt Eav said his men fought the
fire bravely and two were hurt trying to protect children from the
Moments after receiving a call for help from the Deum Chanh area,
the captain radioed for backup from nearby brigades.
"Fifty firemen went
to the fire, but of the station's six trucks, only three were working. Two of
our trucks are Russian and there is a newer Japanese one. Three have been out of
commission since the fire at the Bassac Theater in February.
trucks need to be repaired, we need money. We informed Phnom Penh Municipality
but we have not had any reply."
Three additional trucks were sent from
Kandal province. The gas company, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Water
Department all sent trucks. Three privately owned trucks were also
The old Russian trucks can carry only 2,000 liters of water each.
As Phnom Penh has no fire hydrants, trucks were driven two-kilometers to refill
at Cham Kamoen, a journey which takes 15 minutes.
A total of 48 journeys
was made collectively. The trucks also had to refill with petrol, which added
time to each journey.
Capt Eav said proper hydrant systems were also
necessary as they increase water pressure inside the hoses which is needed to
put out large fires.
He added that his station, which looks as though it
also has been gutted by fire, lacks any form of government assistance and funds.
Of the Mean Cheay station's 58 staff, 35 were on duty when fire broke
out in the shanty town, on March 11.
Only 10 officers have received a
three-month training course. The rest have learned some theory. Eagerness to
increase their knowledge was not immediately apparent the day the Post visited.
Many were playing cards. Like gambling, surviving a fire is a question of luck
in Phnom Penh.
The Deum Chanh fire was the 21st blaze the station has
attended since the beginning of the dry season. The department deals with an
average of two fires a month.
Though the fire brigade is a part of the
police, the service's men are permanently attached to it.