By Kingsley Adegboye
In a bid to stem the rising rate of inferno in Lagos metropolis, the Lagos state government has boosted its fire service with state-of-the-art equipment worth several million dollars.
At the inspection of the equipment last week, the State Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Oyinlomo Danmole told journalists that the resolve to provide these state of the art equipment commenced in 2011 with a contractual agreement between the state government and equipment manufacturers – Messrs W.S Darley and Company of Itasca Illinois, United States. The agreement for the project which is funded by Exim-Bank of America, covered the purchase of 32 fire trucks, two of which are Aerial telescopic turn-table ladder.
The Commissioner who noted that the State Fire Service became fully operative on 31st August, 1972 with an expatriate Chief Fire Officer and a three-man crew of fire fighters, said the Service has grown phenomenally in personnel strength, operational efficiency and experience. Presently, the State Fire Service operates 13 functional Fire Stations in Lagos with two newly completed modern fire stations awaiting commissioning and hand over.
Danmole said the initiative also provided for a comprehensive training of the State Fire Service personnel to ensure optimal use and maintenance of the fire trucks. “In furtherance of this maintenance purpose, the manufacturer also built 2 (two) fully equipped and multi purpose maintenance workshops on the wheel which can function for 24 hours to effect repairs on any of the fire trucks,” he said.
According to the Commissioner, the fire trucks were not purchased off the shelf but built specifically by the manufacturers taken into cognisance the humid tropical climate, terrain and operational comfort of the State Fire Service personnel.
‘In line with this administration’s resolve to provide only the best for Lagos State at all times, a painstaking process which necessitated choosing the right chassis, funnel, exhaust and other components that are compatible with the fuel and oil available in Nigeria accounted for the long time it took the manufacturers to conclude the assembly and final shipping of the fire trucks.
Experts including officials of the State Fire Service carried out several inspections at the manufacturers plant in USA to ensure all the fire fighting equipment were what the state needed. The state therefore set out to match the speed of city development and attendant risks with highly motivated fire service personnel who are equipped with the latest state-of-the-art fire fighting equipment customised for our terrain,” he said.
Long standing history
Continuing, Danmole said: ‘The state sought and got a tested and trusted manufacturer with long standing history- Messrs W.S Darley of Itasca Illinois, a firm that has been in business since 1908 as fire fighting/equipment manufacturer for United States military and over 100 countries. Part of the State Government agreement with the Firm include a full package purchase of purpose built and tropicalized fire fighting trucks, maintenance of all equipment and comprehensive training of firemen.
These include 15 Dragon Pumper, renamed Rapid Eagle: a Fire Tender built on current model Ford F650 chassis with built-in capacity for 3,400 litres of water, poly-water tank and 100 litres of foam tank, integral with water tank.
The Chief Fire Officer, Targhe, USA, Mr Edward Wright, who is the head of the firemen to train Lagos state firemen on the newly acquired equipment, said all the fire trucks are fitted with storage tanks for water, foam and compressed air.
He stated that the new fire trucks will make use of the latest auto Compressed Air Foam System, CAFS designed to reduce the volume of water needed to fight fire.
According to Wright, some of the benefits of this latest system include ability to reduce property damage by putting the fire out faster, ability to reduce water and smoke damage through the use of blanket of foam over smouldering materials which helps reduce smoke emissions, ability to improve firefighters safety as it keeps them further from the flames and heat due to the excellent discharge distance caused by the air powered propulsion.