By Regina Pratt
The Sierra Leone Fire Brigade will play host to the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Kevin Hughes, for one month, after the veteran fire fighter commenced a one month tour of National Fire Service headquarters and service stations nationwide to get first-hand information on how to improve the country’s less than efficient fire service.
According to chief fire commissioner, Mr. Kamanda-Bongay, the arrival of Mr. Kevin Hughes would accord fire officers an opportunity to acquire valuable refresher training from their UK counterpart.
Kamanda-Bongay said the UK fire adviser is part of an International Security Advisory (ISAT) team which advises key security institutions and actors on integrated security challenges facing the country.
He said the month long advisory visit would help national fire officers to gain tips about fire fighting, as well as proffers hints on how the force could be transformed to a modern institution.
“This is the first step in getting the fire service to a status of modern technology,” he said, adding that the under strength and ill equipped force need more institutional support to raise its capacity.
Deputy assistant commissioner, Kevin Hughes, said he was happy his fire department had fostered relationship with the Sierra Leone National Fire force and the government of Sierra Leone, to improve emergency fire response services.
Hughes, who is on his maiden visit to the country, has over 26 years experience with the London Fire Brigade, after joining in 1987. He holds an MBA, B. Eng, (Hons), and several degrees in fire control.
He rose to the rank of deputy fire commissioner since 2006 to date in one of the largest fire services in the world with over 6,000.000 staffs and an annual budget of four hundred million pounds.
He is expected to share his vast experience and expertise with National Fire Force officials throughout the country, having spent four years as head of Incident Management, Command Support and Incident Communications, with responsibility of ensuring continual improvements to the operational competences and performance of the brigade.
He also has practical experience in tactical firefighting and control, having participated in some of London’s biggest fire service incidents, including the Royal Marsden Hospital, the Boeing 777 crash at Heathrow airport in January 2008, a 20 pump fire involving radiation at Heathrow airport in July 2010, the high rise residential block fire on flats in Deptford in September 2010, and the August 2012 fire which threatened to disrupt the closing ceremony of the London Olympics Games.
Also, he took lead role in the London Fire Brigade services responses to the London 7/7 terrorist attacks of 2006.
His career spans stints as counter-terrorist tactical advisor after extensive training with agencies such as Special Air Services, MI5, MI6, Metropolitan Police Counter-terrorist Command, atomic weapon establishment, and at the Ministry of Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down.