Mabapi Fire Engineering Institute trains next gen firefighters


Few professionals in Botswana leave their jobs to start their own businesses in a country where job security is always a first consideration. Therefore, when Maitumelo Mafhoko left his job as a firefighter to become a businessperson, it became a rare feat.

Mafhoko left his employ to start Mabapi Fire Services Training Institute in 2016 to fill a void in the market where no one ever attempted. The fire academy is part of the new wave of career training pathways that are preparing students for very specific jobs.

The training institute, which has been accredited by the Botswana Qualifications Authority, also offers three-day short term courses and the six month certificate course in fire fighting. Mabapi Fire Engineering Institute has also recently started offering long distance diploma courses in fire safety management, special fires, fireman ship, veldt fire management, fire in construction, aviation fire and risk management. According to Mafhoko, the diploma courses are offered in partnership with the Institute of Fire Engineers, which they are affiliated to adding that his institute offers courses beyond basic training including fire risk audit and fire investment programmes. “After working in the industry for almost eight years, I have decided to start the training institution to sensetise the public about fire risk management.

For years Botswana has been ravaged by unrelenting wild fires that have left protected areas utterly desolate,” he said of his journey. “The reception has been impressive and has shown some growth as the number of people we train keep growing every day.” Mafhoko, who is a fire engineer, noted that usually untrained individuals are called out to help during fire outbreaks. This, he said, puts the lives of volunteers in danger because they are not aware of what they are doing due to lack of training on how to suppress veldt fires. He added that the existing fire brigades do not have the capacity to cover the whole country as one station covers a large radius.

In order to mitigate these challenges, Mafhoko urged companies and councils to train their staff on safety as they can be instrumental in suppressing fire when such instances happen while waiting for the fire marshals to arrive.

Although reception for his services has been positive, he said the biggest hurdle in the industry is lack of regulation, which he said creates room for loopholes in the market. In addition, Mafhoko decried lack of policies that require architects, engineers and others to have knowledge of fire safety. “As the economy grows and the mushrooming of the skyscrapers, it is important that the workers in those buildings are trained in fire safety to be safe for such unfortunate instances as at times by the time the fire rescue team arrives, more damage is done which could have been avoided,” he said.

He has plans of forging partnerships with the private sector, government and councils to train their employees, which can benefit them even at home. “We have just completed some basic fire training in Shakawe.

The main purpose of the training was to equip people living along the border on cross fires and behavioural change. This was done in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency and Department of Forestry and Range Resources,” he said.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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