By Bose Adelaja

Fire outbreaks have in recent years been a recurring problem in Lagos, wreaking much havoc which included the destruction of lives and property. In most cases, both the Federal Fire Service and the Lagos State Fire Service had failed to rise to the occasion in containing such fire incidents.

But hope of a better fire fighting response appears to have been rekindled as the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, recently handed over 30 computerised fire trucks to the state fire service to enable it upgrade its operation. The equipment provided comprises twin aerial ladder and twin maintenance vans.

Branded as Fire Eagles, these state-of-the-art vans are reputed to move faster than the ones presently at the disposal of the state fire service and can better navigate difficult terrains/roads. The acquisition of these state-of-the-art trucks, which come with spare parts, is believed to have cost the state government billions of Naira. Already some fire officers are said to have been sent for training to get acquainted with the usage of the new fire fighting system.

Before the arrival of these modern trucks, the existing equipment had become almost obsolete as most of the trucks can only carry 10,000 litres of water. But the new fire trucks come with Compressed Air foam System CAS and water built to the fire fighters’ specification. In addition, it is attached to a computerised detection maintenance van.

Though there have been growing concern over frequent fire outbreaks in Lagos in 2014, the Director of the State Fire Services, Razaq Fadipe, believes there is a drop compared with previous years.

The statistics, according to Fadipe, revealed that between January and December 11, 2014, fire fighters only responded to about 1,383 cases of emergencies as against 2,015 cases in 2013.

However, investigations revealed that there are only 13 functioning service stations to serve the 57 local governments and local council development areas in Lagos, a situation which many Lagosians, particularly those in areas where there are no functional fire station (s} strongly criticised.

A cross section of people who spoke to Vanguard Metro on the development mentioned some specific areas which require government intervention, especially in 2015, saying failure to address the challenges can hinder prompt response of emergency officials in the state.

According to residents, the factors include lack of access roads and mindset of Lagosians, among others. At Iju-Ishaga, for instance, residents said the casualty figure of the June 3, 2014 plane crash in the area would have been less if the road leading to the scene of the plane crash was accessible.

A community leader, who simply gave his name as Alhaji Idris, lamented that though the fire fighters arrived the community as soon as a distress call was made, but the bad road hampered rescue operations.

Though applauding the acquisition of the new fire trucks, Madam Sijuade Risikat is also afraid that they might be under utilized except government fixes the roads. ‘’Many of us who drive on Lagos roads know the difficulty we face on daily basis due to their deplorable state. Also, traffic jam is a major concern in most parts of the metropolises.

Staying on the

road for hours

When there is an emergency, do you expect the fire fighters to stay on the road for hours? I remember in 2012 when a building was on fire at Gbagada, the fire fighters who responded to the distress call were caught in a gridlock that stretched from Iyana-Oworo to Charley Boy and at the end of the day the house was burnt beyond recognition.”

Another problem borders on the mindset of some residents. A resident at Ejigbo, Mr Toriola Olowoporoku, said fire fighters are usually attacked by hoodlums for reasons best known to them. A case in point was the Wednesday November 26, 2014 attack in the Ejigbo area of Lagos where the fire fighters were harassed and their trucks vandalised by hoodlums on a looting mission. ‘’People believe that government property should not be protected. I have witnessed cases where fire fighters were beaten up by hoodlums for allegedly arriving late. They never gave a thought to the fact that the fire fighters were hampered by bad roads and traffic jam,” he said.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.