The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has warned hoodlums and miscreants to desist from hindering Fire Service personnel from carrying out their legitimate duty of fighting fire and rescuing lives and properties in times of emergencies.
The Minister gave the charge at the decoration of the newly appointed Controller General of the Federal Fire Service(FFS), Mr. Jaji Olola Abdulganiyu, with his new rank at the auditorium of the Civil Defence, Correction, Fire and Immigration Service Board, on Thursday in Abuja.
“I appeal also to people not to form a crowd around fire disaster sites. Only trained first responders and those trained in emergency services should be there. They are not sightseeing centres. The crowds hinder firefighting and rescue efforts and contribute to delay and possible loss in lives and property.
“We continue to receive the unfortunate report of hoodlums and miscreants attacking our officers and damaging their equipment at disaster sites, in the cause of performing their duties. Armed escorts will now be accompanying fire officers to deter these antisocial elements,” the Minister stated.
The Minister, who noted that the Fire Service is not to take over the responsibilities of the State and Local governments, stated that what the service must do is to improve its fire advocacy and public enlightenment in the operational services of the FFS.
“I have made the call in the past and I want to make it again that the expansion of the Federal Fire Service is not to take over the responsibility of the States and Local Governments but rather to complement them. States and Local Governments noticeably have been retreating. This should not be the case, particularly in a Federation. On the contrary, they should stoutly respond to it. In other countries, firefighting is a municipal service carried out by municipal governments. Most fires start little and if a local firefighting authority can get there very early, they would have put it out at the putative stage.
“I have suggested that States and Local Governments don’t need to buy expensive fire engines but can adapt a small pick-up truck, a water tanker, pump, hose and nozzle into a smart fire engine. It will serve the purpose well, particularly at the Local Government level,” the minister stated.
Ogbeni Aregbesola further revealed that one of the challenges of fire management in the country is that buildings hardly have consideration for fire and other disasters in conception.
He stated, “necessary things like smoke and fire alarm, a body of water, fire hydrants, assembly points and trained in-situ first responders are hardly present in public and high-rise buildings.
He further stated that, “building approving authorities should refer public and high-rise buildings to the Federal Fire Service and the State Fire Service for safety and fireproofing before building plans are approved.”
Speaking at the event, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Interior, Dr Shuaib Belgore, admonished the new Controller General to continue where his predecessor stopped and position the service to better serve Nigerians, saying the FFS must record tremendous progress under him.
Responding to the Minister’s charge, the newly decorated Controller General of the Federal Fire Service, Jaji Olola Abdulganiyu, promised not to disappoint President Muhammadu Buhari on the confidence reposed in him to take the service to greater heights.
At the event were Governor of Kwara State, represented by Dr. Yusuf Lawal; Emir of Ilorin, represented by Alhaji Mustapha Abubakar Mohammed; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General of the Federation, Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba; Commissioners of the Civil Defence, Corrections, Fire and Immigration Services Board (CDCFIB); Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service; Controller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service; and the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.