The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has said Ghana lost more than GH¢64 million to 6,796 fire outbreaks in 2022, resulting in 50 deaths and 241 injuries.
The outbreaks had also dealt a big blow to many people and organizations, with the government losing property and other valuables.
He announced this at the 23rd Cadet Course Intake graduation parade of the Fire Academy and Training School (FATS) in Accra, on Friday.
The Vice President described the situation as unacceptable and called for collective efforts by all Ghanaians by way of adhering to fire safety precautions to stop the phenomenon.
The repercussions of those losses, Dr Bawumia said, had been dire, with some people still grappling with the difficulties that came with it.
In spite of this, the Vice President said there was still hope at the end of the tunnel.
“I am reliably informed of how fire outbreak figures continue to dwindle across the country. This is welcoming news to all of us but most importantly, an indication that fires are indeed preventable if we all decide to and work towards preventing them,” he said.
He thus commended the Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery, the Fire Service Council led by Kwame Anyimadu Antwi, the Chief Fire Officer, Julius Kuunuor, Management and Officers of the Fire Service for their resilient efforts over the years.
The fight for fire safety, Dr Bawumia said, required continuous attention and concerted efforts to consolidate the gains made so far in order to improve upon its achievements.
“This would require the collective efforts of all and sundry by way of adherence to fire safety messages and practices to avoid the occurrence of what we all so much fear,” he said.
He urged the fire officers to continue their good work of educating the public and finding more innovative and creative means to spread fire safety news.
Dr. Bawumia said the government was aware of the enormity of the responsibility placed on their shoulders and believed that it required a considerable amount of resources to execute the huge obligation.
The government is therefore committed to resourcing the Fire Service with all the necessary tools and equipment.
“This is very much evident in the number of projects that have sprung up at the Fire Academy and Training School in the spate of one year,” he said.
This expansion has enabled the Fire Academy and Training School to accommodate and train recruits three times more than its previous capacity.
The Vice President said the trainees had been offered a more comfortable life during the duration of the course while training and issues of overcrowding and lack of basic amenities had been resolved.
“The current status quo will soon see even more improvement as two additional Fire Academy and Training Schools and a Fire College are under construction at Duayaw Nkwanta, Wungu and Kyebi respectively.
“The first phase of all three projects is scheduled for completion by the end of this month – September. It is in this direction that the government gave the opportunity to the Service to recruit 2,000 new entrants into the Service to improve its human resource capacity,” he stated.
The government, he said, had also provided the Service with two hydraulic platforms capable of reaching the sixteenth floor of a building to assist the Service in dealing with fire and rescue situations on high-rise buildings.
He said the government was procuring 200 Rapid Intervention Vehicles (RIVs) for the Service.
He announced that the prototype of those RIVs was already in the country and the rest are to be assembled in the country and would be ready for use before the end of 2023.
The government, he said, was fully aware of the expectations of the Service to receive new appliances to augment its current stock of equipment for operational and administrative efficiency.
He therefore gave the assurance of the government’s resolve to provide the necessary logistics for the Service to help deliver on its mandate.
He entreated them not to rest on their oars but to strive even higher and harder to shine more as firefighters.
“It is a great thing to serve one’s country, especially in the capacity and manner you have chosen, even as you know how much personal sacrifices you have to make to serve.”
He encouraged them to give their best and endeavour to make a difference in society.
The Vice President charged them to uphold the positive tenets of the noble profession and be good ambassadors of the Service.
“I expect you to further advance the achievements of the Ghana National Fire Service in your own little way and I wish you well in all your future undertakings,” Dr Bawumia added.
In all, a total of 339 officer cadets, comprising 210 males and 129 females across the country passed out.
Of the cohort, 188 officer cadet joined directly while 151 were existing serving officers who met the pre-requisites for promotion.
The Officer Cadet Course spanned 32 weeks, involving 12 weeks of attachment and fieldwork, followed by 20 weeks of intensive training at the Fire Academy and Training School at James Town, Accra.
The training aimed at instilling leadership and management principles of officership.
Some of the topics taught during the training regimen include GNFS as an Organisation, Officership and Work Ethics, Corporate Image Development, Public Speaking and Media Relations, Command, Leadership and Management, as well as Organisational Behaviour, Staff Duties and Administrative Procedures, Public Finance and Budgeting.
The training also encompassed a comprehensive array of Fire Sciences, Fire Safety, and Operational Fire and Rescue courses.
These models included in-depth studies of topics such as Chemistry/Physics of Combustion, Hydraulics, Electricity, Hazardous Materials and Familiarisation with Fire Service Equipment, Hoses and Fittings, Hydrant and Hose Standard Practices, Pumps and Primers, Incident Command Systems, Management of Bush Fires, and Foam and Foam-Making Equipment.
Officer Cadet Josephine E. Adoma Forson was adjudged the Overall Best graduand.