The Chief Fire Officer, Dr. Albert Brown-Gaisie, has appealed to Parliament to enact a legislation which would give the Ghana National Fire Service the power to stop the construction of high-rise buildings in the country.
The legislative support, he said, had become imperative because of the emerging trend of constructing high-rise buildings which pose many challenges in fighting fire outbreaks in them.
Dr. Brown-Gaisie made the appeal when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to respond to issues raised in the Audit Report on the GNFS’ performance.
Also present to support him was Mr. Mark Woyongo, outgoing Minister of the Interior, and his deputy James Agalga, as well as Emmanuel Agyekum, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, and Kojo Bonsu, Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive, who were also there to explain steps being taken to prevent fires in the various markets, especially, the Kumasi Kejetia market.
Mr. Fred Lokko, Managing Director of Ghana Water Company Limited, was also on hand to respond to issues of availability of fire hydrants for fire-fighting in the country.
Dr. Brown-Gaisie’s request for a legislation to stop high rise buildings stemmed from the fact that the GNFS has no equipment to fight fires in high rise buildings.
He said presently, the GNFS only had three turn-table ladders which could only reach the sixth floor of any high-rise building, despite the fact that many fire-fighters across the world now used hydraulic platforms which could reach the 45th floor of any high-rise building.
The Chief Fire Officer said a simulation exercise performed in Accra over some high-rise buildings, revealed the vulnerability of fire-fighters under the present circumstances.
He said the GNFS had adopted a strategy to help manage the situation by accessing the higher floors after the turn-table ladder had lifted fire-fighters to the manageable sixth floor.
In terms of logistics, he said although the GNFS had not had the full complement of equipment needed; it was making do with available resources at their disposal.
He said what the GNFS needed was to augment their staff numbers, since between 2013 and 2014, the service had over 7,350 fire-fighters who were “but now as I speak, we have only 6,994 staff while the demand for fire stations continues to increase.”
He said the GNFS was in discussion with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to, at least, accelerate the recruitment of drivers for fire tenders.
Dr. Brown-Gaisie said the GNFS had also acquired lands at both Ayikuma and Duayaw Nkwanta to establish new fire academies to train the staff.
Responding to the issue of non-availability of fire hydrants, GWCL boss Fred Lokko said with more water being pumped into the system as a result of works to improve water supply, especially in the Accra-Tema environ, the hydrants situation had improved.
He said many hydrants which hitherto were either sealed or dry,, had been opened with water flowing in them, and it was up to the GNFS to make use of them.
Both Mr. Woyongo and Mr. Agyekum, in their contributions gave the assurance that they would continue to interact with the organizations under them, for effective and efficient delivery of service which would ensure efficient fire-fighting in the country.
The chairman of the committee, Mr. Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, Member of Parliament of Dormaa Central, had earlier challenged the GNFS to ensure that all recommendations by the Audit Report were complied with.
Source: The Ghanaian Times
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