Expanding Lagos fire and rescue service capability
Lagos State Government has recorded a major asset expansion in its emergency response services, with the inauguration of newly upgraded/rehabilitated fire and rescue service headquarters and three newly-built fire stations.
The present administration’s special attention to the protection of lives and property of Lagos inhabitants as reflected in huge investment in retooling, upgrading/renovation projects to make the State’s Fire and Rescue Service more effective and enhance its performance was the first of its kind since the Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service became operative in 1972.
With the three additional assets, Lagos now has 21 fully equipped fire stations across the State. The facility expansion programme was part of the recommendations that followed the 2020 comprehensive assessment carried out by the Lagos State Government in the emergency response department aimed at enhancing performance.
Certainly, the oldest and simplest justification for government is its responsibility of protecting the properties and lives of the citizens as well as the provision of goods and services that individuals cannot provide individually for themselves. In other words, government acts as a protector and provider.
What is important here is that both of these justifications for government are manifestly expressed in the State’s Fire and Rescue Service transformation project. In the past, our Fire Service Stations reeled under the intense pressure of using overage fire engines in their operation to handle the increasing fire outbreaks in the State. But to the credit of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s administration, the progress being witnessed across all other sectors has been extended to fire and rescue service.
The turnaround in the Fire Service which is one of the essential service providers is another testament to the government’s investment in, and dedication to, safety. It doesn’t just mirror the government’s intention of ensuring that our fire and rescue services are given tools and support to tackle the ever-changing challenges of fire safety that our communities face but reinforces Mr. Governor’s commitment to the security of lives and properties of Lagos inhabitants as we have it on the last S (Security and Governance) in its THEMES Agenda.
The Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service, as one of the First Emergency Responders, provide essential services which require its personnel to work round the clock. For such people, a conducive working environment will greatly motivate them and boost their morale.
This is why the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in line with the vision to continuously upgrade public infrastructure and provide conducive working space for the Public Service, conceived the transformation of all the State’s Fire Stations, through the Lagos State Infrastructure Asset Management Agency, LASIAMA.
Beyond the new state-of-the-art structures, the latest significant developments include unprecedented retooling in terms of procurement of additional Fire Engines, Light Tools and Equipment for operational use. Recruitment and professional training of over 100 personnel are part of the recent investment of the government to improve the emergency management system of the State.
Undoubtfully, investing in the Fire Stations is a critical step taken towards strengthening and positioning the Fire and Rescue Service in the State as a model firefighting organization. If one considers the resources government gives to reimburse fire victims, especially traders in our markets in times of fire outbreaks, the big deal about these commissioned projects will be better appreciated.
Fire stations are beyond stand-by bays for emergency operations calls up. It is a place for administrative duties, strategising emergency management, and prevention plans just to mention a few, on one hand. On the other hand, it is a Centre for the rejuvenation and recuperation of Firemen from excruciating tasks that they do to the public. It is an excursion venue for the students and a tourist attraction to the generality. So it is important to make our fire stations attractive.
Another important thing about the project was that it was carried out in two parts and covered the sixteen Fire Stations inherited by the Sanwo-Olu administration. The first was the renovation and upgrading of thirteen stations, two of which were torched during the EndSARS crisis. The thirteen Stations include Mobolaji Johnson Fire Station; Ikeja, Agege Fire Station, Ikorodu Fire Station, Sari-Iganmu Mini Fire Station, Lekki Phase II Fire Station, Ojo Fire Station, Abesan Fire Station and Ejigbo Fire Station.
The second involves the reconstruction of two others, that is, the Lekki Phase 1 Fire Station and the Headquarters at Alausa. The reconstruction of the headquarters causes the upgrades of the old bungalow structure into a storey building edifice to provide more space for personnel. There is no doubt it has been a huge motivating factor for the staff of the Fire Service. The facelift has brought about considerable improvements in the working conditions of personnel. It is also ensuring effective service delivery by aiding prompt deployment of services and shortening response time to emergency locations.
One more thing, it can be maintained that the government is not only providing a new lease of life for all the Public Facilities and Infrastructure in the State but creating an economy that provides opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses. During the rehabilitation and construction works, several artisans were engaged as bricklayers, welders, painters and labourers among others. Thus, the administration created many jobs as several people were gainfully employed while the renovation and upgrading works lasted.
With the transformation of the Fire Stations, the administration, through the Lagos State Infrastructure Asset Management Agency, LASIAMA, is setting new standards in infrastructure management. Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service has been strengthened and repositioned as a model firefighting organisation with a standard working environment.
Thus, our firefighters are poised to ensure that the enormous investment made by the State Government is justified by protecting the State’s teeming population, the heavy industrial, commercial and economic activities that translate into multi-billion naira investments, boosting investor’s confidence, as well as strengthening the status of the State as an emerging model smart city.
However, for all the first responders to perform optimally, it is important that they are given the right of way by motorists during emergency operations. Provocative acts such as attacking or cursing firefighters, while on duty, must be discontinued. This is also not a license for people to continue with the reckless acts of indiscriminate and dangerous acts of storing petroleum products in homes, offices and vehicles.
There is also a problem of incorrect use of the electrical appliances or equipment, burning food or leaving cooking unattended in the kitchen as well as the lack of proper care or the knowledge of procedures or plans around flammable or combustible liquids among other known causes for accidental fires that our people must do away with.
It is cheering that the newly upgraded fire service is an edifice built to last and one that was used to create over 600 jobs in the process. While this is another testimony to the fact that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is on top of his job, it is also left to the population to give fire safety all the needed required attention.
Musbau is an Assistant Director, Lagos State Infrastructure Asset Management Agency (LASIAMA), Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja, Lagos.