A fire breaks out in a building of Kathmandu-10 ward office in mid-Baneshwor, creating a chaotic situation. Rohini Shrestha, 45, a ward member, runs with a fire extinguisher, extinguishes fire, evacuates and helpes to calm terrified people.

This was actually a scene from fire and evacuation drill conducted at Ward No 10, office. Rohini was performing a role-play in a drill exercise on fire and earthquake. The drill exercise was carried out by ISET-Nepal as a part of building capacity of local representatives and personnel from urban government on urban DRR and resilience building in selected wards of Lalitpur (2, 9 and 11) and Kathmandu (10, 12 and 13) metropolitan cities under Surakshit Sahar (Safer City) project in support of consortium of ADRA Nepal, Lutheran World Relief, Word Vision International and DCA.

Just a moment later following the simulation exercise, news about fire incident at neighborhood spread in the training hall. At first, Rohini thought that it was another drill but soon realized that the actual fire broke out at a furniture showroom in Buddhanagar, a walking distance from the ward office. Immediately, Rohini and her team of five ward members and other training participants rushed to the place. “It was a real emergency situation where we were able to apply skills and knowledge learnt during drill.” Rohini shares her experience of dealing with the fire emergency for the first time. The learnings from the drill exercise helped Rohini to deal with emergencies during a real disaster.

When Rohini and her team reached the scene in less than 15 minutes, they made effort to lessen the damage from the fire. “We assisted rescue team in removing belongings from the blaze, operated fire extinguishers to douse the small flame and alert public to be away from risk zone to prevent any human casualty and further damage” explained Rohini. “Children and elderly people were moved to safer place and panic residents were pacified.” Fortunately, the incident didn’t trigger any human casualties, which she claims to be the outcome of their coordinated efforts to reduce the impact of disaster. Besides, her team also helped clear traffic making a way for fire brigade vehicles. On the other hand, Rohini amid the chaos, managed to impart the knowledge on fire safety to the local residents witnessing the incident.

“Had we not been trained in the fire drill, we would have failed to handle the situation properly and I would have been another fearful person in the crowd observing the fire and doing nothing just like in those disastrous incidents of the past” expressed Rohini. Rohini has realized that it is essential to have knowledge, awareness, planning, management and response capacity on urban DRR of local representative, which would enable them to plan, integrate and execute DRR activities in ward/municipality level development so as to contribute to community resilience.