The Eastern Regional Fire Command has justified the decision by its personnel to respond to a distress call at Begoro in the Fanteakwa North District in a hired taxi instead of a fire tender.
The Fire service personnel had to resort to a taxi because the only fire tender at their disposal was undergoing maintenance when the distress call came in at around 10:25 am.
The Command has been heavily criticised by some residents of the community for responding to the incident in that manner.
But the Commander of the Eastern Regional Division of the Ghana National Fire Service, Jennifer Naa Yarley Quaye on Citi FM’s Eyewitness News said the firefighters ought to be commended for swiftly responding to the distress call in a taxi, rather than choosing to sit aloof due to the absence of a functioning fire tender.
According to her, apart from the fire tender, the Command has no other vehicle at its disposal that could have transported the men to the fire scene.
“Our vehicles are faulty. It has a clutch problem for about two weeks now. We have mechanics who attend to them, but within the period, Akosombo had their problems and Nsawam also had their problems and these same mechanics attended to them so it was only yesterday [Thursday], that these chief mechanics said they had completed servicing the Akosombo vehicle, and that they will be moving to Begoro and unfortunately that incident occurred”.
“They informed [fire fighters] Bunsu which was the nearest fire station, but to be proactive, they had to go there with a fire extinguisher while they start fighting the fire, waiting for [fire fighters at] Bunsu to come. They could have decided to wait at the station because their vehicle was not working and waited for Bunsu to come from far away, but they took that bold initiative to move to the fire scene to assist, so I think we should applaud them.”
This development has triggered a conversation about the need to retool the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) to effectively carry out its mandate.
Currently, the Eastern Regional Command of the GNFS has 25 fire tenders, with one district having just one tender to respond to distress calls.
According to Ms. Quaye, three of the fire tenders are currently faulty.
“As we speak, each district has a fire engine. There are 25 of them. Three of them are faulty as we speak”.
It wasn’t until 11:19 am that the fire, which gutted a single-room apartment, was totally extinguished.
Preliminary investigations had shown that the occupants of the house that was razed by fire had left the gas on and left the building to purchase some items at the market.