A Deputy Chief Fire Officer (DCFO) Mr Kwame Kwarteng (rtd) has called for a national approach to prioritize fire safety sensitisation to give it a national backing.
He said in certain quarters, such as, the United States of America and Canada, Presidents give their proclamation prior to the launch and observation of the education or sensitisation period.
The call was at the launch of the 2022 Greater Accra Regional fire safety week celebration dubbed “Sustaining national development through fire safety”.
Mr Kwarteng, the guest speaker suggested that the President or Regional Ministers, for instance, should be made to launch the safety week celebration for the citizenry to take it seriously, thereby minimizing fire outbreaks.
The DCFO (rtd) said the Ghana Fire Service (GFS) should involve politicians in their education just as they had been involved in promoting the “Green Ghana Programme”.
He called for a stricter adherence to safety fire protocols, punishment on negligently causing fires and possible prosecution to serve as a deterrent.
Fires have cost lives, injuries, and death and affected the economy, adding that the funds governments used in giving support to fire victims could be channeled into Ghana’s development, he said.
He asked for the implementation of fire safety laws, where owners of buildings should be made to get fire certificates, get certified electricians to wire their structures, educate them on the need to get detectors and extinguishers, stopped from illegal electrical connections, market women stopped from storing flammable substances at shops among others to prevent undesired fires.
Mr Kwarteng said it was high time GFS got its own prosecuting unit, noting that fire officers were the best to prosecute offenders if trained on how to prosecute.
DCFO Richard Gibril Nuhu, Greater Accra Regional Fire Officer said the launch was to conscientise the public on the need to adhere to fire safety protocols and regulations and since fire safety was a shared responsibility thus, there was the need to partner the public, especially when approaching Christmas which would help to reduce fire outbreaks during the season.
“It is in this light that management of Ghana National Fire Service has initiated an operational contingency plan for the Christmas/harmattan seasons which include intensifying public safety education at market centres, Churches, mosques, lorry parks, hotels, and institutional premises as well as other strategic operational directives,” DCFO Nuhu said.
Mr Nuhu commended personnel for embarking on fire safety education, risk assessment, fire certification and training at workplaces, markets, lorry stations, among other public places, stating that
Globally, there had been a paradigm shift from firefighting to fire prevention and encouraged them to practice same.
He said between January and November 2022, the Command recorded 1,136 fire outbreaks out of which 386 were put-out before fire fighters arrived at the scene though within the response time, comparing records.
The Fire Officer attributed this to the effective safety education and awareness that had been well patronized by the public.
Dr Opoku-Ware Ampomah, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital said Fire Service was one of the important institutions in the country that was not given the necessary prominence aand suggested that fire safety should be included in the educational curriculum of students to make sure fire safety became part of the citizens.
Dr Ampomah advised personnel not to compromise on the Legislative Instrument they were guided by but to ensure the right things were done to help save more lives.
Town and Country Planning, he said must ensure hydrants were put at the right places to assist fire fighters’ work, saying that only old towns had them in Accra, he appealed.
He called on government to retool the fire fighters who daily made sacrifices during the work to motivate them.
In a speech read on her behalf, Deputy Chief Fire Officer Daniella Mawusi Sarpong called on personnel to make their presence felt in sensitive areas particularly during the festive and harmattan seasons.