By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Fire, according to a popular saying, is a good servant and a bad master.Â And when it chooses to be a bad master, there are usually tears and wailing on account of lives or property lost or both.
Such has been the trend in recent years, especially with fire incidents involving fuel trucks across the country. Given its cosmopolitan nature and heavy industrial and commercial presence, Lagos has witnessedÂ many a fire incidents with concomitant loss in lives and property.
But the government in the state is presently boasting that it has put in place a means of effectively curbing the spread of fire when it occurs.
It is anchoring this boast on the recent commissioning by the state governor, Babatunde Fashola of 16 newly procuredÂ special variety of fire fighting and rescue vehicles aimed at ensuring quick response to fire and other emergency situations.
The newly procured modern equipment include five rapid intervention fire vans, eight water tankers, with 10,000 litres capacity and two Bronto Skylift/Ariel ladder vehicles. The latest equipment was an addition to the first batch of 10 water tankers and one Ariel ladder vehicle which were also commissioned early last year.
Few weeks ago, there was a fire incident at Ilupeju when a fully loaded fuel tanker burst into flames after spilling its content on the highway. But with quick intervention of the state fire service which raced to the scene saved what could have been a total disaster because the incident happened close to a gas station as well as residential area.
The fire service men were able to put out the fire through their special fire engines, foam fire fighting truck, built to combat oil related fire outbreak.
Gov. Fashola while commissioning the equipment at the Alausa Fire Station Headquarters, Ikeja, said the rapid intervention vehicles would serve as a first responder to fire situations in difficult areas in the state before the arrival of the bigger fire fighting vehicles.
The unique feature of the rapid intervention vehicles is the easy access to narrow places and the flexibility to maneuver through rough terrains.
The foam truck is solely dedicated to fighting chemical and petroleum based fire incidents while the aerial trucks would assist in fighting fire in high rise buildings.
Fashola, recalled that his administration in the early stage was confronted with fire incidents due to no fire hydrants in the state, and expressed optimism that the eight water tankers would complement the existing 10 in putting out fires.
The Governor explained that the two aerial ladder platform fire trucks were procured because the government realised that as more high rise buildings emerge and people continue to use the buildings, there may be cause to fight fire in high rise buildings.
He acknowledged receiving several e-mails and text messages from members of the public on the improved service now being rendered by men of the fire service even as he reiterated that the two ladder platform trucks can be deployed simultaneously with one rescuing trapped victims of a fire incident while the other one would be fighting the fire.
The Lagos state helmsman noted that the state is now in a vantage position to fight petroleum and chemical related fire with the procurement of a foam fire truck just like the State firemen displayed recently while fighting fire from a tanker explosion at Ilupeju in Lagos.
His words: â€œThis is our innovativeness on a short term; on a long term we intend to return our state to compete with other cities and state by reintroducing fire hydrants back to our major roads and installations across the state.
The Governor also disclosed that plans were on-going to build more fire service stations across the state with one each in Ejigbo, Abesan and Lekki areas in the state before the end of this year.
He, however, urged Lagos residents to take precautionary measures to prevent fire situations to save lives and property.
â€œHow many of us take the extra pain to switch off our electrical appliances when we leave home, how many of us keep an extra eye on how the gas cylinder is fitted, how many of us store fuel at home and realise that it is the most dangerous practice,â€ he queried.
The state Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Alhaji Babatunde Balogun in his remarks expressed optimism that the equipment would bring about a new vista for fire fighting in the country.
Speaking earlier, the State Director, Fire Service, Mr. Aderemi Ajose disclosed that the equipment makes Lagos the first across the federation to acquire the aerial trucks.