How Nigeria’s Fire Service Shine Under CG Ibrahim

Undoubtedly, the worthy appointment of Dr Liman Alhaji Ibrahim, MifireE by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Commander-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which took effect on 29th March, 2019 as Controller-General (CG), Federal Fire Service (FFS) was a right decision at the right time towards repositioning, redefining and changing the narrative of the agency for a better, efficient and quality result driving body.
Down memory lane, the Federal Fire Service can said to be among the few earliest government agencies in Nigeria established in 1901 by the British colonial regime before independence as a Unit within the Lagos Police Service Department to prevent and combat fire outbreaks in the Government Reserved Areas of Lagos Colony. It was formed and incorporated alongside the then Lagos Police and was known as the Lagos Police Fire Brigade; this tells more of the necessity and paramount need of the agency’s services to Nigerians at large.
In 1963, an Act of Parliament known as the Fire Service Act of 1963 was enacted; all the officers and men serving in the Lagos Police Fire Brigade were transferred to the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs as officers and men of the Federal Fire Service. The Federal Fire Service is therefore a paramilitary organisation, under the Supervision of the Minister of the Federal Ministry of Interior, with the Controller-General as its Head.
The Federal Fire Service has the statutory responsibility for rescue fire prevention, mitigation, firefighting as well as paramedical and information services. In 2007, the Federal Government reform of the Fire Services in the country redefined the mandate of the Service as Regulation of the State and Private Fire Services, Prescription and monitoring of standards for the promotion of fire education, fire prevention, safety, mitigation and investigation, Ensuring effective discharge of the functions of the State Fire Services, Provision of policy direction for the Nation’s Fire Services, Ensuring the standardization of fire and rescue equipment manufactured or imported into Nigeria, as well as Encouraging the establishment by the State Fire Services of adequate number of fire stations and fire posts, and Establishing the National Fire Academy to meet the training requirements of fire fighters for the Coordination of national emergencies in the country.
However, on assumption of office as the pilot of the Firefighter’s ship, CG Liman Alhaji Ibrahim has shown outstanding and pragmatic efforts in changing the narratives of the agency to a more wider, active and improved result driving body through palpable reforms and initiatives. These are visible in his effort by “expanding the capacity of the agency, reinforcing more proactive and preventive measures, provision of more and modern trucks with equipment, training and re-training of officers aimed at improving mechanisms in managing the activities of Federal Fire Service.
Within a short period, looking at the nationwide need of the services of the firefighters and the few limited offices, the Federal Fire Service under Liman Ibrahim established 6 additional zonal offices. Of recent in a press briefing held at the Service’s headquarters in Abuja the nation’s capital, Ibrahim maintained that the six additional established zonal offices were to boost service delivery across the country.
In his words, “The essence of the spread is to deliver quality firefighting services, improve the response time to emergencies and complement efforts of the state fire services. When I came; we had presence only in Abuja, Lagos and the six geo-political zones. We believe that the new zones will widen our reach and strengthen us to do more.”
The development had Zone G, with headquarters in Minna and is expected to cater for Niger, Kogi and Kwara States, while Zone H, with headquarters in Sokoto, would also take care of Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi states. Others included Zone I with its headquarters in Yola, meant to serve Adamawa, Taraba and Gombe state. Zone J, has its headquarters in Owerri, and shall cater for Abia and Imo. Also is Zone K, which is expected to cover Delta, Edo and Bayelsa, with headquarters in Asaba, while Zone L, with headquarters in Osogbo, would take care of Osun, Ondo and Ekiti States,” respectively.
The Controller disclosed to CAPITALWATCH MEDIA that the zonal headquarters would be equipped with firefighting trucks while experienced firemen would be deployed to man them. According to him, the federal government is focused on strengthening the state fire services for effectiveness and efficiency, hinting also that the FFS is already reaching out to state governors to secure their support and encouragement.
“I want to believe that a strengthened state fire service complemented by our presence in the zones will go a long way in addressing the gaps in fire service delivery across the country,” he stated.
In an effort to enhanced knowledge capacity in the Fire Service Sector/capacity building of men and women of the agency for emergency responses, CG Ibrahim has gained the Federal Fire Service approval for establishing six (6) additional training schools in the six (6) geopolitical zones of the country. He said the Honourable Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has approved six States where this training Schools will be situated, they include “Katsina in the North West, Borno in the North East, Kwara in the North Central, Osun in the South West, Abia in the South East and Cross River in the South South.”
The Controller has since commenced collaboration with State Governments of these resoective states for sitting, construction and takes off of the training schools.
According to him, the training schools will provide training for not just the Federal Fire Service personnel but the State Fire Services and other Fire Services within and outside the country.
“When I came on board, the Service had just recruited new staff we had a responsibility of training them and the number that was recruited could not be trained in our two training schools in Lagos and Abuja”.
“So we had to look for training facilities to complement the existing ones and we were able to reach out to the Nigerian Police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and we had 3 training in schools given to us, one from the Nigerian Police and two from the NSCDC. As we speak the first and second batches of trainees, the junior and senior cadres have concluded the first phase of the training in the training school and have commenced the second phase which will expose them to operational activities.” Ibrahim stated.
In his wisdom to ensuring advanced and professional skills amongst his personnel, Ibrahim supported collaboration with Nigerian Defence Academy to run postgraduate Diploma and a Master’s Degree in Disaster and Risk Management which is aimed at broadening the knowledge of members for more effective service delivery.
Recently, students admitted into the postgraduate School of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna had their induction at the National Fire Academy (NFA), Sheda. The ceremony had in attendance the Controller General of the Federal Fire Service, Liman Ibrahim Alhaji MIFireE who was represented by Controller Thompson O. Mohammed, The Commandant of Nigerian Defence Academy, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade represented by AVM Ismaila Kaita, Retired CGF, Engr. Joseph Garba Anebi, Commandant of National Fire Academy, Controller Tijjani Abbas, senior staff of NDA and senior officers of the FFS.
At the ceremony, the CG stressed that the essence of the collaboration is to give Officers of the Service and other Nigerians the opportunity to acquire knowledge and improve their capacity.
In his words, “in order to be abreast with current issues, the National Fire Academy is constantly in collaboration with world renowned training institutions to acquire knowledge. In view of the aforementioned, the academic collaboration between Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) and the Federal Fire Service is a proof that the strategic alliance and strength of both parties will be exploited in line with international best practices for conventional academic work and research programmes,”CG said.
The Controller General encouraged the newly inducted students to be decent in their approach to issues and adhere strictly to rules and regulations in the student handbook. He expressed gratitude to all stakeholders that made the collaboration a success.
On the other hand, the Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, enjoined the students to be serious minded and take their studies very seriously, as they would only be rewarded with success by hard work from the Institution.
Major Gen. Oyebade commended the Controller General of the Federal Fire Service for all the cooperation and support provided from the beginning of the collaboration till the takeoff of the programme. And assured the Controller General that Nigerian Defence Academy will not fail on her own part but will ensure quality in all aspects of the programme.
The FFS Boss recalled that has since assumption of office considered strengthening of the state fire services as a matter of necessity and importance, “when I assumed office, one of my major goals was to see how the State Fire Service can be strengthened for effectiveness and efficiency and to achieve that I have been reaching out to state governors, supporting and encouraging them to do the needful about their fire services. I also believe that a strengthened state fire service complemented by our presence in the zones will go a long way in addressing the gaps in fire service delivery across the country,” he stated.
Ibrahim was recently in Minna, Niger state to intimate the State Governor Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello of the deployment of 2 modern firefighting trucks and 200 FFS firefighters to the state which has been named the zonal headquarters of the newly established zone G, comprising of Niger, Kogi and Kwara.
On the same vein, he was in Osun State where two modern firefighting trucks were commissioned by His Excellency, Adegboyega Oyetola the Executive Governor of Osun State.The trucks were handed over by Controller General who also disclosed that the training School for the Southwest Zone presently in Lagos is to be relocated to Osun State, with immediate deployment of fire fighters for takeoff of the new Zone L Headquarters, comprising of Osun, Ondo and Ekiti.
The Deputy Governor of Imo State, Rt. Hon. Alphonsus Irona recently commissioned two modern firefighting trucks at the Imo State Government House. The firefighting mobile assets were deployed by the Federal Fire Service for takeoff of the newly created Zonal Headquarters in the South East. The Controller General pointed that a significant numbers of firefighters were also deployed to man the equipment and complement the efforts of the state fire Service in the newly created Zone J comprising of Abia and Imo with Headquarters in Owerri.
Giving the needed attention also on capacity building of personnel of the Service, he has approved the Personnel Professional Training and Courses abroad for men of the Service as part of efforts in ensuring that the Nigeria’s firefighting services meet up with international standard to be equipped with modern knowledge and skills as firefighters for quality service delivery in a country where the rampant cases of fire outbreak has been on the rise over the years.
Ibrahim said his leadership has trained over 300 staff within the country in FALCK Atlantic Training Centre, Ipara Ogun State, and National Fire Academy Sheda where a consultant was engaged in training personnel on building collapse, as well as other professional training in ICT, Public Relations amongst others.
“Over 40 officers have been sent for professional training abroad in South Africa, United Kingdom, United States of America and Dubai. Fifteen of our Officers have just returned from a trip to the United Kingdom after attending an International Disaster Management Course.”
In meeting with the equipment needs of the Service, the CG disclosed that recently he commissioned twelve (12) out of the forty four (44) modern firefighting trucks approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2017 and 2018 in Abuja. However, lamented that “while 19 out of the balance are ready for shipment , the Service cannot take delivery of the remaining 13 which are at finishing stages of production due to cuts in its 2018 and 2019 Capital budget proposal” and called on the National Assembly to approve the proposed Capital budget because is very paramount for the Agency.
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention for the Agency since 2015, the FFS boss said before the emergence of the President his agency had only two functional firefighting trucks. He revealed that the Buhari-led administration has approved over 90 trucks in which only 32 are yet to be delivered, and also appealed that government should provide more funds for the agency so as to speed up the manufacturing and take delivery of the remaining trucks.
Consequently, the agency has recorded very few fire outbreaks in recent times. The CG affirmed to this recently in a press briefing admitted a reduce to fire outbreak, adding that more efforts were have been put in place in ensuring that the country is free from fire outbreaks.
So far, the Federal Fire Service under the leadership of CGF Liman Ibrahim has no doubt ensured as its sole mandate the safety of lives and property of Nigerians by extinguishing, control and prevention of fire outbreak through Regulation, Training, Enforcement, Public Enlightenment Programmes and impact reduction during emergencies through adequate preparedness remained as his top most priority.