By Adagher Tersoo
Fire is a deadly disaster. It is one of the most tragic accidents that happen anywhere in the world. Available data shows that Nigeria lost over Thirty Billions Naira to fire outbreak in 2020.
Most emergency and distress calls required the attention of a competent fire fighter. Neither an outbreak from a vehicle accident, tanker explosion, electric power upsurge nor an inferno from an explosives bomb, pipelines, gas, etc fire is an unwanted man made calamity that posit a great lose both in human and materials resources to the mankind. And so, no society or nation will despised the sacrifice of a good fire fighter.
In view of the ever daunting challenges of combating fire disaster in Nigeria, Controller General of Fire Service (CGFS) Dr. Liman Ibrahim Alhaji embarked on aggressive reorientation, capacity building and procurement of new equipment for the Nigerian Fire Service. Recently, the CG implored Nigerians to act as volunteer firefighters in curbing the menace of fire in Nigeria. Liman specifically made this appeal to Nigerians during the commissioning of modern firefighting truck and two ambulances in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The deployed equipment, according to the Federal Fire Service Spokes-Person Sandra Huan includes new truck and 20 life support ambulances, seven firefighting trucks.
Nigerian Firefighter General, Dr, Liman Ibrahim believes in consistent enlightenment of Nigerians as ways of preventing fire and preserving the equipment of the Federal Fire Service. The gritty firefighter boss has consistently said that if citizens on ground at fire scenes attended to fire before the arrival of fire firefighters, the excesses of fire menace will be curtailed.
His words: “Nigerians should be auxiliary firefighters like in developed countries as that will help reduce the impact on us and reduce the number of fire outbreak,” he said.
“In some many other climes there are situation where you have 50 firefighters; only 20 are on government payroll while the remaining 30 are volunteers”.
“Before the arrival of firefighters they are already doing something so the fire will jot spread but curtail it to its origin and control it.
“What is important in firefighting is control but many people don’t understand when we are controlling fire.
“When property C is on fire we need to protect property B and D so we lay emphasis more on the property that are not on fire.
“Because what is on fire is already on fire so we are telling citizens to be auxiliary firefighters,” he said.
The FFS boss stated that the service in collaboration with states fire services was to mitigate and engage citizens, villagers and traders on how to minimize fire outbreaks and encourage prompt response to outbreaks.
“Firefighting is everybody’s responsibility so the need for robust collaboration between the center and states need not to be overemphasized,” he said.
He called on the states governments to provide allocation of utility vehicles, recruitment of young firefighters and approval of paramilitary salary structure to the state fire service. This, according to him will drastically reduce the menace of fire outbreak and at the same time decrease the loss occasioned by fire outbreak.
The Governor of Kaduna state, Nasir el-Rufai was represented at the commissioning and he appraised that the asset deployed would boost the capacity of the state fire service to respond to fire disasters.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed was also represented at the commissioning by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Shehu Shinkafi who affirmed that the ministry would continue to support fire service financially because of it’s essential services.
Ahmed appealed to the emir to advise people at the grassroots so as to maintain the newly firefighting equipment, stressing that, “it took a lot of investment and funding to acquire them”.
Kaduna was not the only state that benefited in CG Ibrahim’s professional retouching of the Fire Service in recent times, the CG was also in Gombe recently where he commissioned new modern firefighting truck and also solicits the support of the state government in tackling fire outbreak. The Fire Fighter Service’s Controller General urges the state government to ensure the allocation of two utility vehicles to the fire service.
According to him, the allocation would enable FFS officers complement state fire service in the area of fire risk assessment in public and private premises. “The other one will be converted to Rapid Intervention of Vehicle with complementary equipment and gadgets for quick response in the event of emergencies”.
Liman requested for “Sponsorship of state fire service personnel in local and foreign trainings in view of emerging firefighting trends.
He made case for the Inclusion of the FFS in the State Security Council and strengthening of the state fire service through recruitment of capable hands.
He also requested for the “Welfare enhancement package for fire personnel to the paramilitary salary structure.”
The CG was elated when Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe pledged his administration’s commitment to safeguard lives and property of citizens as an effort to combat fire outbreaks in the state.
“We cannot avoid fire because some might come as human error so we shall double efforts to make sure people are protected.
He further assured the Federal Government that the newly deployed state of the art firefighting trucks would be adequately maintained. “We are making a lot of efforts to open up areas with little road access to aid firefighting. We shall look for a good location for the fire service to operate from within the city centre. We shall get allocation for you at the heart of the city centre,” he assured.
The Governor acknowledged that the state fire service was in need of more firefighters hence the need for recruitment of more men.
Yahaya, however, stated that there would be more demands by the state government to the Federal Fire Service (FFS) to ensure that the state attends to fire incidents efficiently.
Penultimate Wednesday, Controller General Ibrahim was in Jos, Plateau state to deploy one modern firefighting truck to the State. The truck was received and commissioned by the executive Governor of the State, His Excellency, Barr. Simon Lalong.
The Fire Service under Liman acquired 36 fire-fighting trucks and created more zonal and state commands. It also promoted 1,276 of its officers. Six functional zonal offices created under him were Yola, Sokoto, Minna, Owerri, Asaba, and Oshogbo.
The Service has further expanded its operations by ensuring that its offices exist in each of the 109 senatorial zones in the country.
In order to further strengthen the existing offices and provide them with the facilities they need for effective services, the Service has ordered for 89 new firefighting trucks, which include 15 water tankers, 44 water tenders, 15 rapid intervention vehicles and15 ambulances. Most of the facilities have been acquired and deployed.
The Service, under Liman, commissioned another 20 new basic life support ambulance buses and seven state-of-the-art firefighting trucks recently in its drive to make the organization ranks among world’s best.
Nigerian government, through the Federal Executive Council had approved N10.4 billion for infrastructure upgrade for the organization.
As part of his determination to reposition the Service, the CG is interacting with the international community and other experts that will help to improve the operations of the institution.
One of such meetings took place between the management of the Service and the Ambassador of Belarus to Nigeria Mr Vyacheslav Bril in Abuja.
The Service is acquiring some of its equipment from Belarus, which the ambassador pledged would be adaptable to Nigerian climate and roads.
Mr Liman is also advocating for redesigning of markets roads in Nigeria to make them more accessible to his men during emergencies. He believes that with good road network, places where fire incidents occur will be easily accessible to the Fire Service officials and such fires will be easily put out.
Dr Liman Ibrahim Alhaji was the first firefighter General in Nigeria who rose through the ranks to be elevated to the post of Controller General Fire in the Service. Arguably, President Mohammed Buhari led administration made a good choice as he appointed a core fire professional as the nation’s fire fighter general.
A graduate of the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi where he bagged first and second degree respectively, Liman was bagged master degree in Public Administration at the University of Calabar in 2006.
He also attended Bournemouth University and Royal Institute of Public Administration (RIPA) both in London, United Kingdom. He has to his kit various trainings and professional courses in Nigeria and beyond.
Liman Ibrahim Alhaji, the Controller General, Federal Fire Service started his career as a professional firefighter when he got enlisted as one of the pioneer Cadet Fire Officers in Niger State. He started work as a Station Officer on 24th February 1986.
Adagher Tersoo, writes from Abuja.