Unemployment: Several Youths to Get Fire Fighting Jobs, Says FG

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

The Federal Government is targeting employing several youths as fire fighters to reduce the large rate of unemployment in the nation.

The Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, said during the launching of new fire fighting equipment, which include 16 trucks and six vehicles at the headquarters of the Federal Fire Service in Abuja on Wednesday, that what is delaying the employment is the enactment of new laws to modernize fire fighting in Nigeria.

He noted that when the laws are ready, the number of fire fighters needed would be alighted and the need for fire fighters in every public infrastructure in the country would be stipulated, and subsequently allowed for more hands to be employed.

Tunji-Ojo, while noting that the number of fire fighters in a country shows the level of its development, said Nigeria cannot be among the top economies of the world and have a small population of fire fighters.

According to him, there is a direct correlation between sophistication, industrialization and fire service because the more you grow as an economy, the more you need to expand the coast of your fire service. Fire service is directly related to development in any nation.

Nigeria with just over 6,000 federal fire fighters is among the least number of employed fire fighters in the world.

The minister said New York with 255 fire houses, Los Angeles with 160 fire stations give the picture of what fight and rescue operation should be, noting that US has over a million fire fighters both employed and volunteers.

He said the bill before the National Assembly, if accented, would change the narratives of fire fighting in the country.

He lamented that: “FFS is a sleeping giant. Your response should not only be combating fire but even forecasting danger. You must be pro-active,” he said, adding that: “I don’t want your performance to be valued around the buildings or infrastructure you prevented from burning down, but rather preventive mechanism to rescue and prevent hazards.”

He said: “For us as a people, we cannot continue to pay lip service and non-challant attitude to the issue of fire. As an individual, I believe that the FFS should be the major employer of labour in Nigeria. All we need to do is put on our thinking caps. It is time for the FFS to rise up to her responsibility which is not just about combating fire. It has to do even with forecasting dangers. We have to migrate from the era of corrective activities to the era of being proactive which will lead us to preventive measures that can save us millions of naira.

“Your strength lies in the decline of fire outbreaks and not the number of fires you fought within a period. 

“Extinguishing fires, saving lives and property, rescuing people during accidents and protecting people on the event of other emergencies remained part of your responsibilities.

“Federal Fire and Rescue Service will be expected to collect information across Nigeria and also take care of the health and safety of your personnel.

“I need to have the full range of foreseeable fires, the areas and what we have to combat them. It is very important as this becomes your next line of action. As government agencies, we put in more efforts in solving problems rather than planning to prevent them.

“The FFS must work very closely with NSCDC for security cover. I understand the issues that our FFS men are attacked when they go out on their legitimate duties but with the NSCDC providing such cover, such attacks will be reduced.

“We want your training centres not just for your officials but we want all buildings with more than 10 workers to have fire rescue and safety officers among them. Timely intervention can save lives and billions of Naira.”

The minister noted that when the bill on fire and rescue service is assented, the FFS will play major role in our national development, insisting that: “For any country to attain its potentials, Fire Service cannot be relegated.”

Earlier, the Controller General, Federal Fire Service, Mr. Jaji Abdulganiyu, said the fire statistics in the first and second quarter of 2023 was a testimony of a truly re- engineered service, noting that records at the Data Repository Centre puts fire call for the period at 1,096 lives saved, 111 successful rescues at 91 and total property saved at over N300 billion.

He assured the minister that with the launching of the state-of-the-art firefighting trucks and Ford Rapid Response Vehicles (RRV), incredible achievements are going to be made.

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