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Retired fire fighter and fire fighting consultant, Dr. Ekong Isong has called on the federal government to first of all carry out a total renovation of all federal fire service stations across the country before going ahead to purchase the N4.6bn fire fighting equipment to avoid wastages of the fund or the new equipment.
In an interview with Business Hilights in Uyo, the former head of Federal Fire Service, Marina said the major challenge facing several federal fire stations is not equipments per se, but regular training and degradation of facilities.
He advised the federal government to take a cue from what the Lagos State Government did to its fire stations few years ago.
He said Lagos State Government under former Governor Babatunde Fashola first of all renovated all State Fire Service Stations across the state and then retooled all.
According to him, “Today, I can bet you, there is no state fire service that is more equipped or fire fighting ready more than Lagos State.
It would be recalled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved N4.6 billion for the purchase of new fire-fighting equipment to contain fire incidents in the country.
The Minister of Interior, retired Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Danbazau, gave the indication at a joint State House Media briefing with the Aviation Minister, Alhaji Hadi Sirika.
Danbazau said there was an appropriation of about N5.2 billion for the purchase in the 2016 budget, but the figure dropped after a no objection approval by the Bureau of Public Enterprises.
According to the Interior Minister, “Today’s Federal Executive Council approved the procurement of some fire-fighting equipment. The last time equipment were procured was sometime in 1996.
“The equipment in the inventory today were those procured between 1985 and 1996, and since then there was no procurement.
“On assumption of duty I went round their stations and I discovered surprisingly the dearth of fire-fighting equipment.
“And with the experiences in fire incidences all over the country we discovered that such a situation should no longer hold and therefore we reflected that in
the 2016 budget with the aim of equipping the fire service and also improve its capacity.
“So (it is for) both equipment and training and of course the welfare of the personnel.
“This approved procurement is going to go a long way to provide the service with the necessary equipment even though this is just a start.
“We also, hoping that the 2017 budget will avail us with the opportunity to procure more equipment for the Federal Fire Service.”
Danbazau also said that the ministry was making some effort to improve on the existing facilities at the Fire Training School.
He said that the ministry intended to partner an entity involved in training of fire fighters, particularly in the oil and gas sector, to train the nation’s fire fighters and improve their capacity to carry out their services.
The minister said that since the various states possessed their separate fire services and had suffered fire incidents, the federal government would partner them on fire fighting.