EFFECTIVE fire-fighting during fire outbreaks in most communities in Ghana is not only a terrifying experience, but has over the years been a problem, which remains an arduous task, particularly, in our rural areas during the dry and hamarttan seasons, and also the urban areas, especially market places, which see annual fire outbreaks.
Consequently, Cirrus Oil, a company operating in New Takoradi, a fishing community in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis, in this direction, has embarked on a sensitisation and education programme, as part of its Health and Safety Week celebration this year, to educate the New Takoradi community on the possible causes of fire, how to fight it, and how to also avoid it.
Two officers from the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), Divisional Officer (III) Augustus Hagan and Divisional Officer Roberta Aggrey Ghanson, who were engaged by Cirrus Oil, took turns on Wednesday to address the community on the causes of fire, and effective ways of fighting it.
The two officers subsequently, used different illustrations to educate the community members how sometimes normal actions and inactions could cause fires, and how such tentative avoidable mistakes could be averted by the community.
Congestion in their rooms, use of sophisticated items, electrical gadgets and materials susceptible to fire were used by the fire officers, during the education and exhibition exercise, to properly inform the community members on the right things to be done to avert the occurrence of fires.
Aside that, the community members were shown, through demonstrations, modern ways of fighting class ‘A’ and ‘B’ fires using chemicals, fire extinguishers, water, and dry chemical powder among others.
Speaking to the community members after the exercise, Divisional Officer (DO) III Roberta Aggrey Ghanson said the issue of firefighting in communities was a shared responsibility between community members and the National Fire Service.
She therefore, urged members of New Takoradi and other coastal communities in the metropolis, to cooperate effectively with the service during fire outbreaks, and said attacking the service unnecessarily, without cooperating, would rather compound the situation.
For that matter, she urged the community to understand the rudiments of their operations, use the free dial numbers of the service when necessary to make maximum use of the institution’s abilities, instead of insulting and attacking them when a problem arises.
She was however, quick to point out to the community members that because the National Fire Service was operating in the country, like many recognised state institutions, it was a guarantee for the organisation to provide or render quality service free of charge to all communities in the country.
DO III Ghanson said it was therefore unwarranted, for any of their officers to charge communities for either quenching fires for them, or rendering any service that is required of the organisation, stressing, “It is never done.”
On his part, DO III Augustus Hagan highlighted the importance of effective collaboration in firefighting, particularly, when it occurs in vulnerable communities such as New Takoradi, which is seen to be highly congested.
He said the problems being encountered by the Fire Service during fighting fires were not always the fault of the officers rendering the service, but on many occasions that of the communities.
He explained that providing directions to locations for fire fighting has always been a problem. According to him, when given the right directions to fire locations, the logistics, the service would certainly provide effective services.
In other circumstances, he said congestion in an area, or house could make the work difficult for the officers. Beyond that, interference of non-professionals during fire outbreaks occasionally, could contribute to complicating matters.
He has therefore, asked for the education of the fundamentals in firefighting, especially, in communities such as New Takoradi, to make their work simple, effective and responsive.
Explaining the main reason for organising the sensitisation programme in the coastal community, the Community Relations Officer of Cirrus Oil, Mr. Mark Henry Freeman, said as part of events marking the celebration of their Health and Safety Week this year, the company decided to educate the residents of New Takoradi, as its host community, on the rudiments of firefighting.
He said their expectation was that the community members would absorb the fire education accordingly, to ensure harmonious cooperation between the organisation (Cirrus Oil) and the host community.
According to him, observing adequately the indicators of health and safety of staff in the organisation was not only critical to the successful operations of the company, but remained a pillar to improved service delivery.
He said apart from the fire education, the company also engaged the workers in health and safety talks.
Other programmes lined up for the Health and Safety Week celebration, he said, include pre-track inspection of vehicles, inspection of road and fire worthiness, education on effects of carbon fuse, and drill exercises among others.