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Fire service may establish arms squad as attacks on firefighters persist

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The Federal Fire Service, (FFS), has made a proposal to the Senate Committee on Interior, for a law that would allow the agency to establish an arms-bearing squad that would be tagged fire police’, to protect firefighters from mob attacks at fire scenes and rescue operations.

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Controller-General of the FFS, Ibrahim Liman, made the proposal yesterday in Abuja, while meeting members of the senate committee on interior led by the committee chairman, Ibrahim Kashim for an oversight visit.

Liman said it has become imperative that firefighters are protected from hoodlums who have formed the habit of attacking fire personnel during fire rescue operations as a way of venting out go the frustration for losses due to fires.

“Due to the harassment of our staff at fire scenes by mob action, the service is proposing to have an arms-bearing unit, (Fire Police), who will be saddled with the responsibility of protecting our personnel at fire scenes and investigation grounds from hoodlums and miscreants with ulterior motives,” Liman said.

“The service is also pushing to fully develop its Fire Investigation Unit, (FIU), which translates to a need for more security for such officers in the event that the fire emanated from an arsonist.”

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According to him, although the budget of the agency has improved under the current administration, there is still a need for an increase if the service yo to efficiently meet targets.

He laments that the continuous delay in salary structure harmonisation with the Nigerian police is affecting the morale of the service’s personnel and that needs to be boosted.

Liman said, “A major welfare concern is the confinement of the Service to a contributory pension scheme, given the enormous hazards faced as firemen which often results to underlying health conditions due to long term exposures to hazards.

“Consequently, the Service will be better motivated when personnel’s pensions are not subject to the contributory pension scheme.

The FFS boss also called for a constitutional review of the current Fire Service Act of 1963, which he said “is now moribund as a lot has changed over the years.

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“Most of the laws and fines have turned obsolete. It is our prayer that this Honourable Committee will facilitate and fast track the review and amendment of the Act as this will reposition the Service to enhanced timely and professional service delivery.”

While assuring the agency that the committee will work towards improving budget allocation to the agency, the Chairman of the committee said they are fully aware of the challenges the agency is facing and that the current budget of N4, 860, 958, 333.48 released to the agency is still a far cry from what it actually needs for optimum function.

He said, “Rest assured that we will work to review the 1963 fore Act and my colleagues and I are committed to transforming the federal fire service.”

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