How CGF Ibrahim is Repositioning Nigeria’s Fire Service

The statutory responsibility of Firefighters is no doubt a noble and perilous one. As an agency of government, Federal Fire Service’s primary aim of establishment is to prevent and manage incidents of fire outbreaks in Nigeria, and in a prompt manner to avoid further damage of lives and properties as the case may be. Deshi Munkuwe takes a look at some of the laudable, palpable reforms launched by CG Ibrahim Alhaji Liman, Federal Fire Service and impacts on the general performances of Nigeria firefighters.

Recently, on the 13th February, during the passing out ceremony of the new officers Federal Fire Service at the National Fire Academy, Sheda in Kwali Area Council of the FCT, 2,200 regular cadet officers, 150 drivers and six new firefighting trucks were commissioned.

In an event attended by the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola among other dignitaries, the minister performed the commissioning and congratulated the graduating cadets, and urged them to brace up for the “daunting challenges” ahead.

In his speech, the minister reminded the graduating cadets that Firefighting is not an easy task. “Firefighters work in the most hostile and dangerous environment. New and emerging trends in fire-related emergencies have further enlarged the scope of the challenges the service contends with.”

“Fire outbreaks due to rising infrastructure stock, new materials and technologies in the building environment, and activities of arsonists and terrorists are some of the threats the service contends with on a daily basis. Therefore, the need for discipline, dedication and professionalism in the face of these challenges need not be over emphasised,” he mentioned.

The minister also urged the management of the agency to put in place measures and strategies for effective deployment and utilisation of the equipment. He emphasised the need for the service to strengthen its fire prevention functions and operational capabilities through capacity building.

On his part, the Controller General, Federal Fire Service, Dr Liman Alhaji Ibrahim, said that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the recruitment of the personnel because of the need to reposition the service.

CGF Ibrahim added that 2,200 firefighters and the procurement of 96 modern firefighting vehicles for the service would help to strengthen the service in its mandate of quick response to emergencies. He also said that the service has benefited from the present government support. So far, the 40 modern firefighter trucks, 15 water tankers with firefighting capability, two mobile workshops have been delivered to the service.

Indeed, these are outcomes of the continuous outstanding and pragmatic efforts CG Ibrahim in changing the narratives of the agency to a wider, active and improved result driving body. Since assumption in office as the pilot of the Firefighter’s ship has shown readiness to 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.

Recalled, before the appointment of the current CGF, the Federal Fire Service had its presence in only Abuja and Lagos and the Six Geo-political zones; we have Zone A comprising of Benue, Nasarawa & Plateau with headquarters in Makurdi, Zone B comprising of Katsina, Jigawa & Kaduna with Headquarters in Kano; Zone C comprising Bauchi, Yobe & Borno with Headquarters in Bauchi; Zone D comprising Enugu, Ebonyi, & Anambra with Headquarters in Enugu; Zone E comprising Akwa-Ibom, Rivers & Cross River with Headquarters in Uyo and; Zone F comprising Lagos, Ogun, & Oyo with Headquarters in Lagos.

However, presently, the Service has expanded its operational activities by establishing six additional Zonal Headquarters thus; Zone G -Niger, Kogi & Kwara, with headquarters in Minna; H -Sokoto, Zamfara & Kebbi with headquarters in Sokoto; I-Adamawa, Taraba & Gombe, with headquarters in Yola; J -Owerri & Abia, with headquarters in Owerri; K-Delta, Edo & Bayelsa, with headquarters in Asaba; L-Osun, Ondo & Ekiti with headquarters in Osogbo. These Zonal Headquarters are to be equipped with a minimum of two states of the art firefighting trucks and manned by well trained and experienced firemen. This according to Ibrahim was done within the limited resources available, which will bring services closer to the people and improve the response time.

Previously, Federal Fire Service Commissioned Zone (K) Command Headquarters in Asaba, as one of the zones. His Excellency, the Governor of Delta State. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa played host to the Controller General FFS. Dr. Ibrahim Liman (CGF) MifireE who was ably represented by the Deputy Controller General Quitus G. Azogu (DCGF) in Asaba for the commissioning of two new state-of-the-art-fire-trucks and take off of Zone (K) Command Headquarters situated in Asaba, Delta State.

The zone comprises Delta, Edo, and Bayelsa States respectively. While Commissioning and inspecting the fire Appliances, Governor Okowa says only an effective fire-fighting service in the country could check the rising incidents of fire.

Okowa, however, advised that it was important for speedy efforts to be made to curtail the extent of damage that any fire outbreak might cause, adding that effective fire service would check such incidents. The donation of these fire fighting trucks and the choice of Asaba as the Zonal Headquarters for Zone K is a welcomed development.

“We have an efficient fire service in the state and this addition which will see the FFS playing complementary roles will be of great assistance to us as it will help to attend to vast areas in the state, bearing in mind that we have a lot of urban areas in Delta.”

There is a lot of destruction when you have a fire incident that is not checked. No one knows the extent of damage fire incidents will cause, that is why there should be prompt response whenever there is a fire outbreak, Okowa said.

He thanked FFS for choosing Delta as Zonal Headquarters and assured that his administration would cooperate with them so they could succeed in their activities.

Earlier, the Comptroller- General of FFS, Dr Ibrahim Liman, said that the FFS as the apex fire-fighting organisation in Nigeria, monitored developments in the fire services across the country. It also evaluates the strength and quality of firefighters in the public sector.

“We know that only a few of the states that own fire services have done fairly in this regard and Delta stands out from the records available to us. We are aware that your administration has sustainably rehabilitated and upgraded fire fighting equipment and infrastructure across the state”, Liman said.

In an effort to motivate and ensure safety and protection of firefighters, under the leadership of CFG Liman, there has also been an increase in the hazard allowances for fire service personnel from N200 to N5000, which is among the highest in the country. There is also provision of fire fighter suits and service uniforms for all the staff regularly, provision of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and other firefighting aids for protection and safety of the state fire-fighters.

The Controller General, FFS, Dr Liman Ibrahim, stated this in Enugu during his nationwide tour of firefighting facilities in the six geo-political zones of the country on Friday. Ibrahim said the move was in line with the current administration’s commitment to controlling fire outbreaks in the country, using firefighting equipment and experienced manpower.

He added that the opening of more zonal offices would complement the efforts of various state fire services in fighting and controlling fire outbreaks in the country. The CG inspected the state of firefighting equipment in Enugu State and witnessed the passing out parade of firefighters on the inspector/assistant cadre trained at the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps’ training camp in Achi, Oji River Local Government Area of the state.

Ibrahim said he had made proposals for the opening of more federal fire service stations with each of the zones having a training school. He described the opening of more firefighting training schools as imperative since there were increasing number of employees of the agency, who had yet to be trained in the usage of firefighting equipment and its safety precautions. Ibrahim, who was overwhelmed by skills the 186 firefighter trainees exhibited during the parade, commended their instructors for having tutored them very well in the various fighting modalities.

Having completed two months of active training, the CG said the trainees would proceed on a two-month industrial attachment in various fire service stations in the country to gain more experience. “Thereafter, they will return to camp for additional two months’ training to enable them graduate as fully-trained firefighting officers,” he added.

Fielding questions on whether the trainees would be guaranteed automatic employment after graduation, Ibrahim said they were already engaged while in training. He added that the trainees had already received one month salary out of the two months they were in camp.

In his effort to create more Training Schools, Federal Fire Service through the tireless efforts of the CGF Ibrahim secured 10 hectares of land from Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina for Training School.

The Governor allocated the 10 hectares of land to the Federal Fire Service (FFS) for the building of its training school for the North–west geo-political zone. Masari donation when the FFSs Controller General, Liman Alhaji Ibrahim visited him to discuss modalities for the take-off of the training school.

The governor who said the land is located in Kankia Local Government Area of the state immediately handed over the Statutory Right of Occupancy document to the CGF.

Masari who was full of appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for the transformation of the Federal Fire Service promised to look into all the requests made by the CGF.

“I join you to express my gratitude to Mr. President for making the Federal Fire Service functional. And I also want to appreciate the Honourable Minister of Interior and the Controller General of the Federal Fire Service for finding Katsina State suitable for the siting of the Training School and I can assure you that all appeals will be looked into,” he said.

On his part, the CGF expressed the readiness of the Federal Fire Service to kick off the Katsina Training School, declaring that; for a start, one state of the art modern firefighting truck and firefighters are being deployed for the take-off of the training school.

He also said the Service will deploy another modern firefighting truck as well as firefighters to the State Fire Station in Daura to complement the efforts of the State Fire Service there.

The CGF who stressed the need for collaboration between the Federal and State Government called on the governor to provide more support for the Federal Fire Service in safeguarding the lives and property of the people of the state.

Ibrahim also appealed to the governor to do more in his repositioning of the State Fire Service by increasing the staff strength as well as the rehabilitation of mobile and fixed fire assets. The CGF who used the opportunity to thank the Governor for his efforts in repositioning the state Fire Service also reeled out the achievements of the service under the President Buhari administration. He said; I am also aware of the sustained efforts you have made in repositioning the State Fire Service through upgrading and rehabilitation of firefighting assets as well as the recruitment of 60 personnel into the Service.

Same on ensuring the creation of more zones, the Controller General federal fire Service (FFS), Dr. Ibrahim Liiman and his entourage were in Owerri the capital of Imo State to Commission two modern state of the art fire appliances with fully installed modern fire fighting facilities. This was done with the taking off of the Zone J Zonal Commands headquarters situated at Owerri.

While in the state, His Excellency the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Rt.Hon. Alphonsus Irona received the CGF on behalf of the Governor and Government of Imo state at the Government house. The South East zone J zonal headquarters situated at Owerri Comprises of Abia and Imo State respectively.

Dr, Liman A. Ibrahim (CGF) stated at the commissioning ceremony that adequate fire fighters were mobilised and deployed to man the appliances, operate and manage the equipment aimed at complementing the efforts of the state in the area of firefighting, Prevention, Mitigations, Control and Emergency Disaster Management.

In response to his Excellency the Deputy Governor of imo State showered encomiums on the federal government, the federal fire Service and the CGF for choosing Owerri, Imo state as the zonal headquarters of the South Eastern region and promised to support, assist and cooperate with the federal government and federal fire Service in the state.

The Controller General (FFS), Dr. Ibrahim Liman presented an award to the Deputy Governor Imo state at the Government house, venue of the commissioning of the new fire appliances. After which both the CGF and the Deputy Governor inspected the fire engines, its lose appliances, accessories and equipment that came with the fire trucks.

Also, the Sokoto State Government in its effort to replicate CG Ibrahim’s reformation agenda, land for zonal office construction was given to Federal Fire Service.

The Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal instructed the State Ministry of Lands and Housing, to allot land to the Federal Fire Service for the construction of its Zonal Office in the state. He gave this directive during an inspection of the two firefighting vehicles allocated to the zonal office by the Federal Government in Sokoto.

The Governor thanked the Federal government and Ministry of Interior for establishing the Zonal Office in the State. “The Federal Governments intervention in that regard would no doubt complement the state government’s efforts in that direction. As a government, we are fully committed to safeguarding the entire people of Sokoto State and their properties as well as ensuring an enabling environment for their businesses to thrive.”

So, I want to assure you that all the courtesies being enjoyed by other Federal Governments establishments in the state will be extended here for the overall development of the people. He said.

The Zonal Commander of the Federal Fire Service in Sokoto, Alhaji Bello Zagga, while seeking the collaboration of the state government, applauded the Federal Government for allocating four firefighting vehicles to the zone. He said two of the trucks were issued to Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states got one each.

Add to the zonal offices, strengthening of the State Fire Services has been the CGFs major concern, because when he assumed office, one of his major goals was to see how the State Fire Services can be strengthened for effectiveness and efficiency and to achieve that, he has been reaching out to State Governors, supporting and encouraging them to do the needful about their Fire Services.

The belief is that a strengthened State Fire Service complemented by the service’s presence in the Zones will go a long way in addressing the gaps in fire service delivery across the country with the procurement of new state of the art firefighting trucks distributed to the 12 zones of the Service across the nation, the Service is always ready to respond to fire outbreaks and other emergencies across the nation.

At this juncture, it is cogent to note that under the present administration, the agency has recorded increase in availing necessary equipment for active service delivery. The CG on this regard acknowledged that under the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari the agency recorded huge project execution purchase of equipment.

Indeed, the gigantic strive to transforming and repositioning of Federal Fire Service under the able leadership of CGF Ibrahim, the agency recorded very few fire outbreaks in recent times. Consequently, fire-fighting activities envisaged by statutes which include the prevention, control and extinguishment of any kind of fire are achieved.