Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, Tuesday, 2nd December, 2014, handed over 34 customized firefighting trucks and equipment to the state fire service with an appeal to residents to protect and maintain street signs in their localities to enable fire services to locate them in times of emergency as well as desist from hampering the work of the emergency responders.
The fire-fighting equipment handed over at an impressive ceremony at the Lagos State Fire Service headquarters, Alausa, Ikeja, consist of
15 fire eagles, 15 rapid eagles, two aerial telescopic turn-table ladder and two maintenance vehicle workshops on wheel as well as fire fighting apparels for the personnel.
In his remarks before handing over the trucks and firemen apparels to the authorities of the state fire service, Governor Fashola said there was need for citizens to assist the professional fire-fighters to do the job for which they are trained by making way for them to reach the crisis location in time and carry out their work without hindrance.
This, the Governor said, could be achieved by citizens not crowding at the scene of fire or other emergencies and by maintaining and protecting street signs in their localities to direct first emergency responders to the points of crisis.
Praying that government would have no frequent need for the vehicles, Governor Fashola, who acknowledged that accidents must happen no matter how careful people are, appealed to residents that when such occasions arise, they should not only grant access to the fire men or other first emergency service responders but also stay away from the scene of the crisis.
“We continue to appeal that whenever this happens, and we pray it will not be frequent, you must help them you must assist them to get to the point of crisis. These are highly trained, well equipped fire fighting personnel. But if we block the access to where the fire is, we get in the way of doing their job”, the Governor said.
Asserting that his administration’s commitment to the protection of life and property remains undiminished, Governor Fashola said
Government had already trained a total of 570 young men and women, 10 from each of the 57 local government areas and local council development areas of the state as first emergency service responders to work in collaboration with the State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) in the case of emergencies in any of the council areas.
He declared, “So across Lagos today, there are 570 young men and women working with the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency who are first responders and who know what to do. Please listen to them when the incident of fire does happen”.
Giving a background of how his administration has built up the fire service over the years, Governor Fashola, who noted that the architecture for the present day emergency response service in the state was laid many years back, said one of the first things it did on coming to power was to put up street signs across the state.
“It was deliberate; so that in times of crisis, in times of emergencies we will be able to locate the crisis point”, the Governor said, adding, “So I want to again appeal to those who treat public infrastructure with disdain, that street signs can save your life, maintain it and protect it, it can make the difference within the golden hour whether help gets to you or not”.
The next thing the administration did, he said, was to set up a command and control centre, as well as a three digit emergency number, pointing out that the idea was informed by the reality that it was going to be extremely difficult for a person in distress to remember eleven digits.
“With your taxes, we installed an emergency number, the 767, and later the 112 so you have two options. Those lines operate toll-free, whether you have money on your phone or not you can make an emergency call because we have paid for you to make that call. This is what we do with your taxes”, he said.
Reiterating that the protection of the life and property of citizens is the most important responsibility of any government, Governor Fashola declared, “It is the most difficult job that we have. It is easy to build roads, it is actually easy to repair damaged road but it is impossible to give back human life”.
On the genesis of the new fire engines and equipment, the Governor recalled that when his administration wanted to buy them, the opponents filled the newspapers with stories saying the government had gone to raise foreign loan pointing out that the equipment were manufactured from scratch by a company in the United States and financed by an Export and Import (EXIM) bank loan.
He expressed joy that a representative of the manufacturers, Mr. Peter Daley, was present at the occasion to testify to this adding, “For those who know economics, that is how big economies help their home businesses to export goods to other parts of the world. If they put electricity in Nigeria, our EXIM Bank will also be able to help our home businesses to export goods. Peter Daley would best be manufacturing in Nigeria and not exporting to us from America.
“But, nevertheless, we have seen the power of small businesses because this is a family business as he has told you. But this is how big it is now because their country put electricity in place. So instead of criticizing us that we went to borrow money, they should commend us for doing our job of protecting life and property of citizens”, the Governor said adding, “We can account for it, the evidence is there”.
The Governor advised residents to be conscious of the new season, the dry Season, where the risk of fire will be very high adding that there is need to take out a fire policy for our personal effects, homes, jewelleries, electronic and household appliances Insurance
can help to mitigate the losses that we may suffer.
He further advised, “We must keep inflammable materials away from our homes. We hope that those who are responsible for providing fuel will
continue to do so, so that people will resist the temptation of storing fuel at home. We hope that in this festive season we will manage our excitement and our festivities in a way that will safeguard our lives and property”.
Assuring that the state fire service would be there to respond whenever fire accidents happen, Governor Fashola, who recalled two fire incidents in the state in the early and late November during which citizens sent messages to commend the state fire service, said with the coming of the new equipment, the government meant to demonstrate that when it says it wants to protect life and property, it means to do so.
“Between 2007 and now, we have continued to increase the stock of equipment but nothing has been this impactful in the kind of statement and commitment and policy we intend to demonstrate that when we say we want to protect life and property, we mean it”, the Governor said.
Thanking the state Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Hon. Oyinlomo Danmole and the staff of his ministry for their commitment to the
project, Governor Fashola disclosed that his administration plans to establish a fire academy that would “create training, employability for young men and women who want to develop a career in fire fighting”.
He declared, “In the event of an emergency, we are able to respond better today than we were yesterday and hopefully our capacity to respond tomorrow will be better than our capacity to respond today. But as I said, we are not done. There are more police formations that will open; there are more fire services that will open because we are bringing more police formations and fire services closer to you homes, closer to your local governments and giving you a feel of what democracy is really about; access to first responders when we need them “.
In his remarks, the representative of the W.S. Darley Company of America, Mr. Peter Darley, commended the commitment of the Lagos State
government to raising the standard of fire fighting in the state to international standard adding that his company was committed to assist in realizing this objective.
He praised the state Governor and the state Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture both of whom he said have devoted time and energy in taking the state fire service this far adding that the plan to establish a fire academy in the state was one that his company has committed to heart.
Earlier in his welcome address, the state Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Hon. Oyinlomo Danmole said the resolve to provide the new
fire equipment started in 2011 with a contractual agreement between the state government and W.S. Darley and Company of Itasca Illionois, United States adding that the initiative covered the provision of 32 fire trucks of which two are aerial telescopic turn-table ladder as well as a comprehensive training of fire service personnel.
In his vote of thanks, the Director, Lagos State Fire Service, Mr. Kunle Fadipe, praised the Governor for being a man of his words recalling that the last visitation of the Governor to the fire service in March this year, he committed to making the state to compete with other developed cities of the world in terms of fire fighting.
“Without mincing words, the commissioning of these new state-of-the-art equipment has brought me to a conclusion that the promise made by His Excellency is now promise fulfilled”, he said.
Prominent among those present at the occasion were: the state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Ayo Gbeleyi; the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba; the state Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Wale Ahmed; former Deputy Governor of the state, Alhaja Lateefat Okunnu; General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Femi Osanyintolu; Chief Operating Officer W.S Darley, Mr. Peter Darley; Chief Executive Officer, Life Line Incorporation, Mr. Hakeem Durojaye; royal fathers; religious leaders and other stakeholders in the fire service industry both within and outside Lagos.