By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The Country’s Chief Fire Officer, Nazir Kamanda Bongay, has requested that government allocates NLe12,808,300.0 to enable them improve on the welfare and terms and conditions of service for career serving personnel, improve on the capacity of the security sector to continue to serve the nation and participate in international peace keeping operations, provide adequate logistics for increased capability for effective security service delivery, increase response capacity to address new and emerging threats, strengthen interface among the security sector, the populace, MDAs, and the government to ensure inclusive security, which is necessary for peace, security, and national development and review existing legislations governing the security sector with a view to bringing them in line with best practice.
The Country’s Chief Fire Officer revealed that from July 2022 to June 2023, they recorded 374 fire incidents nationwide.
He cited that they recorded 223 in the Western Area, 52 in the Southern Region, 50 in the Northern Region and 49 in the Eastern, respectively.
He said those fire incidents destroyed lots of properties and rendered many homeless.
He at the Ministry of Finance’s 2024 budget hearing process, where presented that some of the critical challenges of the institution includes inadequate budgetary provision to run such a sensitive establishment , inaccessibility of funds for emergency activities such as the immediate repairs of fire engines.
He disclosed that certain sections of the city are without fire stations, poor road network for fire engines to move freely, coupled with vehicular and human traffic resulting in severe congestions within the city which he said impede the smooth running of the fire engines when there is a fire outbreak.
“This often leads to disastrous consequences,” he said
He said lack of hydrants in many parts of the city, coupled with the destruction of existing hydrants by road workers or other agencies create severe difficulties during firefighting operations, citing limited number of operational fire engines and essential equipment for effective firefighting.
He presented that the only way to help save Sierra Leone from burning is to develop an updated fire policy with attendant regulations and guidelines for the fire force, establish and equip fire force services at district headquarters.
He said the National Fire Force is the authority responsible to do firefighting, search, rescue and embark on prevention activities in Sierra Leone, but that they were currently constrained by very limited number of firefighters.
“The force has insufficient personnel, engines, equipment and chemicals to respond to fire incidents countrywide,” he lamented.
He said the equipment available for firefighting search and rescue operations fall short of the number required to effectively and efficiently discharge their duties of saving lives and properties under threat through fire incidents.
He said the entity is faced with a daunting national task of responding to emergencies with very limited capacity.
“The incidence of fire disaster has drastically increased causing the destruction of property worth billions of Leones and claiming many lives across the country. Other fire-related problems facing the poor innocent fire victims in the country include huge medical bills, psychological imbalances, trauma, housing and so on,” he said.