Kandy, Sri Lanka Fire Brigade

Former Sri Lankan and Then British Capitol

Kandy is Sri Lanka’s second largest city, located in the country’s hilly interior at an altitude of 1,600 feet.

Don’t let the elevation fool you, it is still blistering hot perhaps as there is that much less atmosphere to dampen the sun.

(I’m not complaining, much.)

The population is around 125,000, way more, it appears, than the streets can handle.


Sinhalese colluded with the Brits to overthrow the last king of Sri Lanka, Rajasinha, a south Indian who failed to curry favor with the country’s big wigs.

The Brits took over, stole common land and generally treated the locals terribly.

Sri Lankans finally gained their independance from the British in 1948.

Two Stations, No Comparison, Though


The first station we visited is relatively new and frankly, impressive.

It has an engine, tanker, rescue, ladder and ambulance.

Staffing on the engine is five.

Engine Crew Area

Engine Crew Area

Two fire fighters on the rescue, which has a circular saw, air bags, and various other extrication equipment.

Extrication Equipment

Extrication Equipment

The ladder or lift has two fire fighters and was pulled into the bay nose first; I was never able to find out why, perhaps to protect the cab from the sunlight, as it would be otherwise outside.

The ambulance rides with two and is predictably much busier than the fire units though they had had a working fire in a pharmacy the night before.



The engine was fully equiped with breathing apparatus and a ventilation fan.

Firefighter Senanyake and Engine

Firefighter Senanyake and Engine

They showed me around the firehouse and I was invited to play an obligatory round of ping-pong against Kitty, the fire fighter who showed me around.


I did better than expected though he had a wicked serve.

In comparison, the other station is hooterville-esque.

A broken down ramshackle affair with an engine, tanker and ambulance.


But, a really nice and informative crew.

Their engine runs with a crew of six!

But, sadly, they have no breathing apparatus at that station.

Whatever happened to sharing?


1 Comment

  • cortez lawrence says:

    It is good to see how FFs around the world operate. Many work at a deficit of training, equipment and leadership! When I worked for the State Dept I would take a duffle bag full if firefighting gear (PPE, small tools, old manuals, magazines, old helmets )with me whenever I was headed to a third world country knowing the contents would be appreciated and put to good use! Screw all the blattering about liability! Most of the stuff were free or nearly free donations form vendors who had taken goodies in on “trade-in” when I fact they had no further use for them. Try it next time you head out!
    I trust you took some time to get in some of the excellent diving there. There is a dive shop there where Arthur C Clark was living when I visit it.him in the late 80s.

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