By Omeiza Ajayi
In the wake of increasing attacks by arsonists in some parts of the country, the Federal Government has challenged States and Local Governments to take advantage of the constitutional provision in the Concurrent List to establish their own fire stations in order to increase response time during emergencies.
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola gave the charge Tuesday in Abuja during the commissioning of 20 newly procured Basic Life Support Modern Ambulance Buses, seven Firefighting Trucks and the Pull Out Parade of three senior officers of the Service.
He said; “Our service as the Federal Fire Service is to complement the states, not to be the main and only firefighting organizations in the states. As a matter of fact, if we must go by the spirit and letters of the federal constitution, local governments too must have capacity to fight fires. They do not need to buy bogus firefighting trucks. There are smaller trucks which are more amenable to fighting fire incidents at the local level.
“So, I am calling on the local governments to provide these firefighting trucks that can be deployed to immediately arrest any fire incident.
“It is important for states to establish their own fire service to complement what the Federal Fire Service is doing in their states. It is only when we have these complementary service that we can be rest assured that fire will not pose any threat to us in the preservation of lives and property. They must not abandon fire service requirements or needs in their states. As they make provisions for the state fire services, they must empower their local governments to have the capacity to manage to some extent, fire disasters in their domain”.
Controller General of the Federal Fire Service FFS, Dr Ibrahim Alhaji Liman in his opening remarks said the service has established presence in all states and about 37 Senatorial districts, assuring that “before the end of this year, we will commence deployment of our personnel and assets to the 72 remaining Senatorial Districts”.
He said to further position the Service for optimal service delivery in line with best practices, the Service recently embarked on aggressive capacity building of its personnel with a dispatch of 21 officers to Belarus on various aspects of fire fighting, rescue, and fire investigation courses.
According to him, the Service will soon dispatch another set of officers to the United Kingdom UK for advanced training on Hydraulic Platform Operations, adding that “as a matter of fact, modalities are in place to send officers to the United Arab Emirates for further training as soon as International nap flights are restored between Nigeria and the UAE”.
He said the Service in her efforts to ensure a safe haven across the country is collaborating with state fire services across the Federation and would in the coming days begin a joint training of the Services at the Service’s Training School in llesha, Osun State.
He also reiterated his call on relevant stakeholders to support the establishment of an Armed Squad in the Service to be known as Fire Police, saddled with the responsibility of protecting personnel at fire scenes and investigation grounds from hoodlums and miscreants.
According to him, the continuous harassment and sometimes assault on fire officers and destruction of assets is totally unacceptable.
Liman commended the retiring officers, DCG Quintus G. Azogu, DCG C.K Agu and ACG M.O. Thompson for their dedication to duty, saying the Service would continue to tap from their wealth of experience as the need may arise.
On his part, Chief Executive Officer of UYK Nigeria Limited, Usman Yusuf Kansila thanked the federal government for supporting indigenous companies in the awards of contracts, saying Nigerians are ready to contribute their quota to national development.
According to him, the firefighting trucks are capable of working for several years without any breakdown insofar as routine service is carried out regularly.