By David A. Mark. Kaduna, North West Nigeria.
As a child growing up in Kaduna state, one of the places I have dreamt of visiting was the premises of the Kaduna state fire Service in Tudun Wada area of the metropolis. The fire trucks, the tower where they train and their helmets which looked different from what other types of professions puts on was something I dreamt of putting on one day and putting out fire.
One of the highlights of my child hood was passing by fire service office one day and seeing trainees climbing the tower. I wished my parents would stop to watch, but they had other things on their minds and didn’t even notice what was happening.
As a grown man I look back and wonder what ever made me had such dreams, especially when I drove past the premises a few weeks ago. The fire service office was like a ghost town, devoid of human presence and littered with fire trucks that were once the source of a child’s happy childhood.
A few days later a friend sent me the picture of a burnt fire truck and said it belongs to the Kaduna state fire service, I quickly called a friend who is a fireman he pleaded for anonymity before telling me that was the only functional firetruck at the headquarters. I was heartbroken, he went further that, for sometime, they depended on firetrucks from NNPC, NTI and Dialogue group who would only respond at their convenience. Despite that, they have been of tremendous help to them.
The Kaduna state Director of the fire service Mr. Paul Aboi, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria NAN and published by the Premium Times on 13th January 2021 was quoted saying, “76 persons died in 615 fire incidents recorded in Kaduna State in 2020, while 139 others were injured in the fire incidents, while 85 people were rescued.
He went further that, the number of fire incidents increased from 523 in 2019 to 615 in 2020 due to negligence of residents, in spite of series of enlightenment.
My question is if the Kaduna state fire service had been more properly equipped would the figures have been up to that, despite the negligent attitude of the victims?
Because Mr. Aboi also stated that, he has only 74 staff across the state and will need more to meet up to the challenges in the years. With this minimal number of staff, he said, the state lost more than N2.5 billion to the fire outbreaks, while properties worth N5 billion were salvaged.
The Kaduna state government under the Mallam Nasir El Rufai, has done well in other areas, but the Kaduna state fire service needs urgent attention because the Governor has been able to put round pegs in round holes in the various agencies in Kaduna state.
The state fire service being under the Kaduna state Emergency Management Agency SEMA, has a young vibrant Executive Secretary who has done very well and should be able to revive the Kaduna state fire service to a level where they will be able to carry out their duties well and save more lives and properties, be celebrated like firemen in developed countries who are national heroes and also inspire another child who will grow up to fulfill his dream of becoming a fireman.
David A. Mark