Cross River fire agency lacks manpower, facilities
The Cross River State Fire and Rescue Services (CRSFRS) lacks adequate infrastructure and manpower to effectively cover the 18 local council areas in the state.
An officer at the Public Relation Unit, Walter Okon said in Calabar, that the fire sector need to be made a federal entity to ensure safety of lives and property.
While commending the state fire service for its prompt response to emergencies, in spite of its challenges, Okon who spoke on behalf of the Director of Cross River State Rescue Service, (CRSRS), Emawo Osien, advised that private sectors should partner with the state fire service for a better response machinery.
He explained that out of the 18 local councils in the state, only Calabar, the state capital has fire appliances to cover the metropolis.
His words: “The fire service should not be controlled by the state government alone. The federal government should come in. Fire service should be federalised so that its activities can be accommodated in the country’s budget like that of the Police, Road Safety, Immigration and the rest. As a matter of fact, there are supposed to be fire stations after each five kilometers.
“Safety is an important aspect in the life of everyman and Cross River State Fire Service holds it at a high esteem. We have the men on ground who are willing, ready and capable at all times to discharge their duties whenever they are called upon. Despite all these, we also face some challenges in the sense that the fire service was supposed to cover the 18 local councils, but we lack the manpower.
“The state government is trying in its own part to see that safety is fortified but there are limitations. As I speak, we only have fire engines here in Calabar but every other station outside the capital has no fire appliances to work with. When you go to Ikom, Ogoja, Akamkpa and the rest, the stations are not really functioning well.”
Okon pointed out that the service has the manpower but as far as essential duties are concerned, manpower is not enough, adding that it would be better if the government can recruit more persons. He blamed victims of fire incidents for delay in service, saying that most times, they delay in contacting the service.
On how best to tackle fire incidents in areas without facilities, he said: “We have been carrying out massive and aggressive fire tactics. Proactive measures to ensure ‘zero fire outbreak’ which means we must beef up measures and educate the people on fire prevention in schools, market places, churches and homes.”