The cost of a fire fighting set is now rising again in Kuwait.
Photo: Supplied Kuwait has been facing a serious fire crisis for several years.
In 2016, Kuwait was forced to shut down after a series of wildfires raged for four weeks.
The fires damaged the country’s oil industry and killed nearly 200 people.
A new report by the Australian Financial Council found that Kuwaitis had spent about $4.2 billion on fire fighting kits between 2015 and 2020, including the purchase of fire fighting equipment from the United States.
The latest study, released today, found that firefighting kits were worth about $2,800 to $3,300 a year in Kuwait and about $10,000 a year to Kuwaitis living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The report found that about 20 per cent of Kuwaiti households received a kit in 2016.
The average kit cost $2.3 to $2 and about a third of kits cost less than $1.
The kit price has also increased in recent years, with the average cost of the most popular kit in Kuwait reaching $3.1 in 2020.
The report said the Kuwaiti government had failed to properly track the costs of these kits, which it was using as a tool to fund social programmes.
“Kits used to be an inexpensive way of purchasing firefighting equipment but they now cost up to $6,000, which is more than double the average wage,” the report said.
“This is a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
The report’s findings are not a surprise given the continuing fire crisis in Kuwait, which has seen more than 2,000 fires burn since 2015.
The crisis began when a fire broke out in a gas station on March 11, 2020, which destroyed buildings and damaged the national oil company’s headquarters.
Kuwait was hit hard by the fire, with a total of 17 people killed and more than 600,000 people displaced.
The fire has been exacerbated by a lack of fire-fighting equipment and a lacklustre national response, which was put on hold in June 2018.
“The country’s government has consistently failed to put in place a response plan that would allow fire-fighters to quickly respond to any fire,” the Financial Council report said, adding that “government officials and the Kuwaitis themselves were not fully aware of the scope of the problem.”
The Government of Kuwait has a duty to protect its citizens and the public from external and internal threats, it said.
The government is working to ensure the safety of the country, it added.
The Financial Council’s report said it was important to understand how Kuwait’s fire-supply programme is organised.
“It is not a simple issue of how much kit a person purchases, or how much they spend.
It is a complicated mix of different priorities and priorities that is often hidden from the public,” the research director of the Kuwait Centre for Sustainable Development, Amal El-Zoubi, said.