The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved N4.6 billion for the purchase of new fire-fighting equipment to contain fire incidents in the country.
The Minister of Interior, retired Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazau, gave the indication at a joint State House Media briefing with the Aviation Minister, Alhaji Hadi Sirika.
Danbazau said there was an appropriation of about N5.2 billion for the purchase in the 2016 budget but the figure dropped after a no objection approval by the Bureau of Public Enterprises.
“Today’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the procurement of some fire-fighting equipment.
“The last time equipment were procured was sometime in 1996.
“The equipment in the inventory today were those procured between 1985 and 1996, and since then there was no procurement.
“On assumption of duty I went round their stations and I discovered surprisingly the dearth of fire-fighting equipment.
“And with the experiences in fire incidences all over the country we discovered that such a situation should no longer hold and therefore we reflected that in the 2016 budget with the aim of equipping the fire service and also improve its capacity.
“So (it is for) both equipment and training and of course the welfare of the personnel.
“This approved procurement is going to go a long way to provide the service with the necessary equipment even though this is just a start.
“We also, hoping that the 2017 budget will avail us with the opportunity to procure more equipment for the Federal Fire Service.’’
Danbazau also said that the ministry was making some effort to improve on the existing facilities at the Fire Training School.
He said that the ministry intended to partner an entity involved in training of fire fighters, particularly in the oil and gas sector, to train the nation’s fire fighters and improve their capacity to carry out their services.
The minister said that since the various states possessed their separate fire services and had suffered fire incidents, the federal government would partner them on fire fighting.
Danbazau mentioned Kano, Lagos and Kebbi as states that suffered recent fire incidents, adding that the national council on fire service in Kano last month agreed to standardise fire service delivery all over the country.
He said that the meeting criticised the operation of several standards operated by each state and accepted to change the trend.
“We are moving ahead towards that and also be able to ensure that the necessary fire codes are observed by everybody,’’ he said.
The minister also hinted that NEC discussed the need to have an inter-ministerial meeting to consult with various ministries and states in order to ensure that prevention measures were carried out.
He said it was important that every building observed the building codes by having fire equipment, such as fire hydrants, for preventive measures.
“These are some of the very measures that we intent to take in the very near future to ensure that we reduce the losses and also prevent fires from happening,’’ he added.
He said that stakeholders meeting would be held with experts to enforce building codes in the country to secure the buildings and ensure that they generate their revenues for the government.
On the strengthening of the country’s fire-fighting workforce with young professionals, the minister said that all agencies under the ministry had been directed to prepare for recruitment in 2017.
“It is not just the fire service, but all the services under the ministry of interior have been directed to prepare for recruitment into the services this 2017 budget.
“This directive has been given to them couple of months back because of the realisation that they need the manpower and particularly fire service which needs a lot of energy to be able to tackle some of its challenges.
“So there is no doubt that we are going to carry out some recruitment exercises.
“But that is not to say that even the older ones who have not reached retirement age are not of any use.
“They are very useful; we need them to share their experiences with the younger ones.
“I terms of capacity building certainly we cannot do away with them.
“So there is absolutely no doubt that we are going to carry out some recruitment exercises for all the services and we want to make the fire service attractive,’’ said the minister. (NAN)