Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has asked Nigerians to embrace the right firefighting attitudes as there are going to be more incidents of man-made fire outbreaks as the dry season sets in.
He also advised that more rigorous awareness campaigns on fire safety and prevention should be embarked upon by the Federal Fire Service and its counterpart in the states to enhance the right firefighting attitudes in Nigerians.
Speaking on Thursday at the pulling out parade of the outgone Controller-General, (CG) of the Federal Fire Service, Dr. Ibrahim Liman, in Abuja, the minister said it is very critical for fire services across the nation to intensify advocacy campaign on fire prevention because this is the time of the year that fire accidents occur at a higher rate and most items are combustible due to the hot weather.
He noted that: “Although there are naturally occurring fire accidents, most accidents are man-made, accidentally, negligently or on purpose, (arson), and this can be prevented mostly if there is enough awareness. Nigerians should be made to know the various categories of fire and what the first responders should do before the arrival of the fire officers.”
Aregbesola recalled that the federal government has spent N10.4 billion on fire infrastructure upgrade in 2021 and some of the infrastructure includes 44 firefighting engines, 15 water tankers, 15 rapid intervention fire engines and 20 basic life support ambulances which were distributed across the states.
The minister, while extolling the virtue and legacy of the former CG, said Dr. Liman has brought about unprecedented growth and development as well as a much needed revolution in the service since he took over the mantle of leadership in 2019.
On Liman’s achievements while he was the CG, he said: “it will be on record that the expansion of the service which began in 2015 from the fitful presence in Lagos and Abuja since its inception in 1901 was brought to a head under his tenure, the FFS is proudly now in all the states of the federation.
“Under him, the service established six additional training schools totalling eight, one in each geopolitical zone. The FFS has also procured firefighting vehicles and materials at an unprecedented rate under him and commissioned aerial firefighting equipment which was the first of its kind in Nigeria and has also reduced the fire emergency response time to seven minutes.”
In his farewell speech, Liman said the successes achieved under his tenure were made possible by the support of President Muhammadu Buhari, the minister of interior, personnel of the service and the media.
Liman, who was the pioneer chief of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT) Fire Service, said his growth through the ranks in the fire service has been rewarding and worthwhile and he retires a fulfilled individual and confident that the officers he left behind are able to carry on and build more on his legacy.
He said: “I spent 17 years with the Niger State Fire Service before I was invited to start what is today known as the FCT Fire Service and I headed FCT Fire Service for 13 years. Then I was invited by the then minister of interior comrade Abba Moro, having heard of my work, to come over to the Federal Fire Service, this is how I found myself in the FFS.
“When I came on board, we had 23 trucks but as at the time I was handing over on the 30th of December 2021, I handed over 69 state of the art fire trucks. I took over 17 water tankers of 10,000 litres capacity, I handed over 32 of the same, from two ambulances to 20, 19 utility vehicles to 56 and increased our staff strength to more than 6, 000 among many other achievements such as the production of a national fire policy for the country which we never had, review of the national fire safety code, standard operating procedure and disciplinary code which are some of my last assignments.”
Meanwhile, the acting CG of the FFS, Samson Karebo, has said that it has been an honour working with the outgoing CG because he has brought to bear his wealth of knowledge on officers of the service and has trained firemen abroad in partnership with other government agencies.
He said the Federal Fire Service has received 2,845 fire calls in 2021 and has rescued 260 emergencies, saving 587 lives while 136 were lost.
He added that: “The estimated property saved is worth N18, 996. 47 trillion and the estimated property lost is N3, 045.27 trillion and the major cause of the fire in 2021 is electrical equipment related.”