By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU State Fire Service has retooled its personnel and equipment for emergencies of fire outbreak, most especially as the harmattan haze sets in, in the northern part of Igboland.
The service which had already been reactivated with modern tools of fire fighting equipment by the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administration, recently embarked on manpower training of its staff to sharpen their fire-fighting skills with the equipment already on ground at the agency.
Declaring open a one-day safety training workshop for stakeholders and the general public, Governor Ugwuanyi urged Enugu residents to make use of fire and state emergency numbers to alert government agencies especially the Enugu State Fire Service on fire incidents.
He said that ensuring peace and security of lives and property of residents had remained the top priority of his administration.
Represented by the Commissioner for Rural Development, Mr Gab Onuzuluike, Ugwuanyi said that residents must continue to use state emergency number, which he said, was toll-free.
“The workshop is about safety. What we need to do is to ensure that necessary things are done in order to prevent any disaster in homes, public places or in gas stations. I’m happy with the media for disseminating the information so that people will know and also have the fire service numbers so that in case of emergency, they can call.
“The government in the past three years had continued to train and re-train its fire officers as well as ensuring that sound and knowledgeable officers head each of the stations,” he said. According to him, the state within the last two years has established five new fire stations within the three senatorial zones of the state. “It is clear to all who have been following this administration that it places security and safety of the environment as its top priority,” he said.
The state’s Chief Fire Officer, Mr. Okwudiri Ohaa noted that the training workshop was meant for all safety officers in both private and public sectors in the state.
Ohaa noted that the training was coming at the right time to remind the officers of their important role as well as train them on new fire-fighting drills as the dry season sets in.
“This workshop is as a result of His Excellency’s directive that we should do everything to enlighten the general public on fire safety. The essence is that, as you know, we are in a festive season cum dry period. It is to enlighten the general public for them to be fully aware of the safety and other security issues.
“The training is for stakeholders and the public because everybody uses fire. Fire is a good servant if it is handled well and a bad servant when it goes out of control.
Speaking on the challenges he has faced in discharging his duties, Mr Ohaa said: “One of the challenges we are facing is people’s perception of the fire service. Even when we are going on the way, people don’t give us right of way.
“In terms of funding, the governor has done so well and everybody can testify to it. When he took over in 2015, we had only one functional fire truck but now, we have 12 water trucks which are fully functional. We have procured all the chemicals we need for fire- fighting this season.
“We have become more preventive this period but if there is any fire outbreak, we are equal to the task. Our vehicles are in top shape right now. But people should learn to make use of our emergency lines whenever there is an emergency. We are ready for any disaster. The government had put the 12 fire trucks and other auxiliary vehicles in top shape ready for emergency deployment.”
He noted that the workshop would remind those in business with highly inflammable materials on how to ensure safety of their environment.
In a lecture titled; General Security Challenges in our Homes and Work/Public Places, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu advised residents to be security- conscious at all times especially in this yuletide season.