Nepal’s Capital, Kathmandu, is nestled in a broad valley at about 4,000 ft above sea level. As it is about the same latitude as Key West, Florida, and despite it’s proximity to the world’s tallest mountains, it is surprisingly warm.
The Valley is roughly 220 square miles with about 1,000,000 residents. Most live in apartments that are sometimes crowded onto very narrow streets where access of any kind is quite difficult.
Traffic in the city is horrible and is compounded by the fact that many side streets are unpaved mud paths. Getting around is very difficult.
The sprawling valley is comprised of three main centers: Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. Each has but a single fire station, meaning three for about 1,000,000 people.
Fire protection is obviously on the back Burner, (no pun intended) since the response times and lack of staffing are so great as to render a quick attack impossible.
Kathmandu’s fire station is in the “New Road” area not far from the historic Durbar Square. The equipment bays face the street and an enclosed and gated courtyard. The rigs exit through the courtyard for security. In fact, guards with automatic weapons are on patrol on the grounds. Some will know that Nepal has struggled with a Maoist insurgency and political instability. Terrorist attacks targeting the police and the military, especially in the countryside, were once common.
Much of the apparatus and equipment comes from Europe, often as a donation. Kathmandu is like much of the rest of the world, including many parts of the US where fire protection is either an after-thought or entirely ignored. Police protection takes pride-of-place over fire safety and protection. Perhaps because of the extreme shortage of resources, nuisance fires are allowed to burn in streets and vacant lots where they add to the pollution and can easily spread to structures.
Fire protection plays “Second Fiddle” the world over.