Kathmandu FD

Nepal’s Bravest

Kathmandu Valley










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.

Center City Street










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.

Firefighter on Duty










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.

SCBA Bottles and Compressor










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.

1 Comment

  • Chris says:

    I was just in Nepal on a mission trip in October 2012. I never saw a fire truck. I saw a few ambulances and many police vehicles. One evening, in central Nepal, we were stuck in traffic at a fatal motorcycle vs microbus accident. The entire road (a main thoroughfare for the area) was shut down for several hours. It was shut down not for an investigation, but shut down until the bus owner and the family of the deceased motorcycle rider reached a financial settlement to be paid immediately.

    The victim had already been removed but the vehicles were still in the road. Through our translator, we were told that nothing could be moved because it might affect the settlement. We definitely were not in the US where police try to get traffic flowing as soon as possible.

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