The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, on Tuesday, said that men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, would henceforth be accompanying firefighters during emergency operations across the country.
Mr Aregbesola said this during the commissioning of a state-of-the-art firefighting truck in Calabar by Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River.
He stated that deployment of armed men became necessary following the incessant attacks on firefighting trucks and men when responding to fire emergency calls.
“We are deploying armed personnel of the Civil Defence as the advance team to every fire emergency.
“They will be armed so whoever therefore dares to test our will, will pay dearly for it henceforth.
“So, to be forewarned is to be careful as they are to secure every ground of emergency and enough of willful damage of expensive fire trucks and grievous physical attack on fire service personnel.
“Some characters just use disdain excuses to damage and attack our trucks and grievously so on personnel and this makes it difficult for them to carry out their assignment,” he said.
He urged communities to be the first line of defence for firefighters as they stand up to own the firefighting equipment deployed to their communities to safe lives and property.
“Our communities now should stand up and own the firefighting equipment deployed and procured for their use at a huge cost.
“They should be the first line of defence in the face of attacks from vandals, hoodlums, unruly armed elements and must not allow those characters own the space because at the end of the day they will be the ones to suffer for lack of response.
“These personnel attacked are not less Nigerians, but are Nigerians with rights to their own lives, safety and freedom so nobody has a right than the other.
“They are sons of some people, husbands of some people and wives of some people so you cannot therefore think you can physically assault them and think you can get away,” he said
Mr Ayade said that the state was willing to acquire more modern firefighting trucks to help safeguard lives and property of citizens.
“We are known as a tourism state so public safety must be our priority so we will reflect this visit in our budget for 2022.
“This is to ensure we provide for the acquisition of this kind of truck to support all other 17 local governments because this one will be in Calabar where the largest population and density is,” he said.
He, however, said that the emergency response system in the state had remained a bit challenging because of its warning system.
“This fire happens imperiously, unplanned and most times it becomes a state of emergency,” he said.
The governor appreciated the Federal Government for deeming the state worthy of the deployment of one modern firefighting truck as he solicited for more.
“The state has water everywhere by the virtue of its name, so we needed a truck of this nature to help respond sharply to anywhere with fire incident,” he said.
Dr Ibrahim Liman, Controller General of the Federal Fire Service, said that the newly deployed truck was to complement efforts of the State Fire Service.
“This is to improve firefighting and enhance service delivery in the state,” he said.
The CG implored the Cross River State Government to look into the allocation of two utility vehicles, sponsorship of state fire service personnel in local and foreign trainings.
“Inclusion of the FFS in the State Security Council and strengthening of the state fire service through recruitment of capable hands,” he said.