It is that time of the year that we are again, taking the battle cry to fight domestic and bush fires because of the advent of the harmmatan or if you wish, the dry season because the rainy season with it’s woes of floods and all has handed over the baton.

This of course isn’t news because it has been happening, it’s likely to happen and if the right plugs are not pulled it will continue to happen, making me think that the typical Ghanaian has a short memory, given the havoc and devastation that follow in their wake wrecking hardships, lose of lives and property and total social delocalization.

Although I’ve mentioned short memories, it would be hard to overlook the resultant effects of the just ended rainy season where lives, property and livelihoods have been gravely affected, it would have been business as usual if not for the spillage of the Akosombo dam, bringing unheard of, unmitigated carnage and a situation in my opinion that could have called for a state of emergency given the miserable state of the people in the affected areas and these happenings are the handiwork of the rainy season although some people say the spillage is a human factor; mind you the dam didn’t produce the water, the water came from somewhere.

Well, we have endured and still enduring the wrath of the rainy season we shouldn’t forget of finding a lasting solution to avert future occurrences but alas, the dry season is here with us again.

What are we going to do differently?

Is it going to be business as usual?

Or someone has finally thought out of the box?

Here in the Jirapa Municipality, we have started seeing and experiencing pockets of bush fires and it is incumbent for us here in JIRAPA FM to ask the right people the relevant questions.

Our radar has fell on the Ghana National Fire Service Jirapa Municipality where the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Sub. Officer Baakengwie Rufus outlined what he says are a number of improved and maintained interventions aimed at putting domestic and bush fires to the barest minimum.

Mr. Baakengwie says the process has already started with a series of meetings and trainings with stake holders such as communities, opinion leaders, fuel stations, guesthouses and the Community Health Training Schools among other educational institutions numbering about 49 where the focus of the discussions has basically been preventive measures, where the focus is in protecting important assets.
He said fast-forward, the critical focus is to protect strategic assets beginning with human life, buildings, businesses among others.

He also mentioned government buildings and installations, farms, dams and also electrical installations pointing out that the lose of any of these assets to fires or any other mishap is a direct challenge to human existence.

He said the foremost was to identify flash points, simulate how potential threats should be managed and what to expect in the event of evacuation exercises.

He also warned that the Ghana National Fire Service is backed by law, the PNDC Law 229 and the LI 1724 (2003) as amended by LI 2249 (2016) and that these laws are going to be enforced to the letter without fear or favor, so it is not going to be business as usual, the law will take its punitive course.

The main mandate of the service is basically to ‘prevent and manage undeserved fires’ because the law stimulates prevention of fires not necessarily putting them off and that it is the duty of everyone to act in a manner that fires do not occur.

The main challenge the service is faced with is attitudinal and that the human factor is the prime cause of both domestic and bush fires.
The sensitization efforts of the Fire Service has always been to make people conscious of their activities that bring about fires and avoid and prevent them.
He did not minse words when he said some opinion leaders, especially politicians when canvasing for votes promise the people all sorts of projects but do not for once involve the Fire Service in sensiting the people as to how to manage and protect these projects from the devastating effects of fires, that is if they really mean to provide these projects.
One other area if improved on that would have made fire prevention more meaningful is the training of what Mr. Baakengwie calls Community Fire Wardens or fire volunteers which is beyond the capacity of the service although the services of these volunteers is backed by law.

He says the service has for time and again requested the assistance from well meaning institutions in and out of government and indeed some private individuals for assistance to train these wardens but has not elicited the needed results although ravaging fire knows no bounds and anyone could be its victim.
Mr. Baakengwie briefly stated some of the evils fire can mete out to its victims starting with death and injury, poverty, soil degradation, air born diseases among others.

He also mentioned extinction of some trees, plants and animals and indeed it is one of the cardinal causes of rural – urban drift and most of the social challenges we are encountering.
So says the ‘Fire People’ the ball is back in our court.
From me, let’s hold our part of the bargain and let’s hope they hold theirs for fires do not DISCRIMINATE.



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