The past few months in Plateau State recorded incidences of fire outbreaks during which possessions acquired over years of hard work and sacrifice perished. The frequency of fire outbreaks is usually higher during the dry and windy seasons of the year. As the dry seasons draws nearer, we approached the Plateau State Director of Fire Service, Michael Pam Dung at his office along the Bukuru express way to find out about their plans towards preventing fire accidents in the coming dry season.
Mr. Dung explained that a reasonable degree of prevention of fire outbreaks can be achieved if the fire service has its operations improved upon to a professional standard. This is usually achieved with a good manpower base that is properly trained and welled equipped. The public must also be adequately educated to understand that the fire service knows there is a fire outbreak only when it is informed through phone calls or other efficient means of communication. Majority of the public, he says are ignorant that fire fighting as undertaken by his organization is free. As a result they sometimes prefer to put out fires on their own using manual approaches with all its shortcomings.
One problem his organization has often faced is the problem of chaotic development of residential areas that has often led to the inability of his organization to put out fires as a result of the unavailability of in-roads.
Mr. Dung said that Nigeria is a country where emphasis has often been placed on security consciousness but not on safety consciousness. Safety consciousness however, ensures prevention. He noted that most fire accidents would have been avoided but the lack of a culture of safety consciousness has been responsible for our inability to prevent them leading to lost of lives and belongings. He said that the national fire code is underway and it is hoped that its final passage into law would ensure the enforcement of crucial fire regulations. When that happens he says he is sure the frequency of fire accidents will reduce.
The Plateau State Government according to Dung is now determined to overcome some of the difficulties of the Plateau State Fire Service. More persons have been recruited into the service. An ambulance has also been purchased to help them in their rescue operations for victims of fire accidents. As at the time of granting this interview, Dung said that some equipments have been ordered and are being expected at the end of the week.
Dung called on private organizations to take up the responsibility of sponsoring radio and television programs aimed at creating awareness, as doing so will go a long way towards ensuring they arrive fire accidents sites as quickly as possible. Such forums will also serve as channels for educating the public on fire safety consciousness and its significance.