Abuja – The Federal Fire Service (FFS) has called for the enabling environment for comprehensive coverage of the country, to prevent damages.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja, the Controller-General of the service, Mr Joseph Anebi, said that the organisation’s budget was not commensurate with its scope of duty.
Anebi, however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for capturing the service in the 2016 budget proposal and stressed the need to ensure total coverage of parts of the country.
According to him, the service currently covers only Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Osun.
“I urge the government to look into how to enable us to fully cover everywhere, to prevent damages.
“If the country will be fully fire covered, the better for us.
“I am very happy with the President’s budget presentation; I am happy because he has listening ears and has remembered this service once more.
“This sector has long been forgotten; we have almost been fighting fire with bare hands. We do not have viable equipment.’’
On the organisation’s challenges, he listed the lack of equipment such as fire-fighting engines and hydrants, among others, as well as personnel.
He said that in line with global best practice, hydrant points are supposed to be in all the locations of the country and should be between 100 kms to 150 Kms interval.
“Then fire stations are supposed to be 2.5 kms interval. But in Nigeria, it is not like that. For instance, we have one station in Nyanya, after that you cannot find another station even down to Karshi.
“Each time we pick water from our station and move out, on getting to the scene of fire, if we exhaust that water, we have to come back to base and take water to go back again.
“Fire does not wait, as it is raging, it will keep on burning.’’
He expressed disappointment that people who do not have the mandate to fight fires were procuring the fire equipment.
“But the FFS which has the mandate and viable men to fight fire does not have the equipment to do so; that is the irony of what we are facing now.’’
He described the situation of the service as pitiable, saying that a departmental store located on the same street with the FFS headquarters was gutted.
“There was fire there and our men got down there; along the line while fighting fire, the appliance we had broke down and there was nothing we could do.
“We were lucky assistance later came from another station of ours; but before that, the store had been destroyed because fire waits for nobody.”
On the necessary precautionary measures to be taken especially during the current harmattan season, Anebi advised Nigerians to be watchful over children, making sure they do not play with fire.
He further advised that all electrical appliances in homes, offices and shops should be properly switched off at the close of work or before leaving the house.
“This is that period when fire normally occurs and it is in the best interest of every Nigerian to take precautionary measures to prevent fire disaster.
“We should be observant in the kitchen making sure that the gas is not leaking, before lighting the cooker.”
He further warned against bush-burning. (NAN)