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The Addis Ababa Fire and Emergency Prevention and Rescue Agency (AAFEPRA) is experimenting with integrating a Geographic Information System (GIS) that would enable fire fighters to take the shortest and less congested routes to disaster areas.
The GIS technology helps locate accident areas and points out the fire spot. Integration of the technology will have considerable  importance in saving lives and property. When the experimentation is completed, the GIS technology devices will be installed in 10 fire stations in Addis Ababa and in areas vulnerable to fire accidents.
Solomon Mekonen, AAFEPRA Communication Head told Capital that the technology is being tried for compatibility with the city’s master plan.
“We have seen from experience that a lot of damage occurs due to fire accidents, and particularly because people don’t call immediately when fire break out. To spot and reach fire accidents swiftly, we are going  to use GIS technology.”
However, it is not known when exactly the new service will be operational. “We are doing assessments to identify areas that are populated by businesses, shops, houses and industries. After that we’ll install the sensors in places where fire accidents are more likely to occur. We want to have one sub-station in every Wereda in five years time, which means we will be able to provide  fast service accompanied by GIS technology,” he added.
Solomon said, “The agency is 80 years old but it is not well developed logistically. Recently, we bought 11 modern Italian made fire trucks for over 69 million birr. The trucks can pump water by themselves and the nosels can rotate 360 degrees. We trained officers for many years and 200 firemen with degrees in other disciplines will graduate soon.”
386 fire accidents that occurred in Addis Ababa during last year had taken the lives of 52 people and damaged property estimated at 45.6 million birr. Fire accidents were more frequent in residential houses and shops took the lion share of accidents by registering 101 and 65 accidents respectively.
Even with such staggering losses, property estimated to worth 3.4 billion birr was saved with the help of AAFEPRA fire brigade.