The Assistant Controller Of Fire, Federal Fire Service Calabar, Olomola Alumayowa, in this interview with GODWIN OJOM, gives an insight on the state of the federal fire Service In Cross River State.
What can you say about the Federal Fire Service in Cross River State?
To start with, our combat vehicle was commissioned on the 28th of September, 2021, by the minister of interior and our controller general, Alhaji Libman Ibrahim, with other dignitaries with other house of representative members that were in attendance. It was commissioned at the Governor’s office, here in Calabar.
Can you and your men attend one emergency situation in Cross River?
Yes we can attend to emergency. My men are well prepared for any distress call. The appliance are working perfectly, everything is working perfectly, we have our emergency lines, each time they call us, we respond immediately.
On Saturday January 21, in the night, we brought down fire at the University of Calabar, around 02:14 hours. But we cannot attend to emergencies outside Calabar. You know fire is not something that will wait for somebody, it needs prompt response. For example if a fire incidence occurs in Ogoja, before you travel from Calabar to Ogoja, fire may have finished burning and there is nothing you can do.
How many substations do you have across the state?
That is why we are still resisting from federal government, let fire stations be at local government basis and at strategic places like market places, schools, etcetera, not that they will be calling fire service from long distances to start turning up for fire.
So how many do you have?
So far we have only one this one federal fire station in Cross River state. We synergize with other sister agencies like the state fire service, the police to ensure the success of our operations.
What is your relationship with sister agencies like the state fire service, police etc?
We have cordial relationship. At times they do call from state fire service and we do turn up together fight fire. Even at the commissioning of this our facilities, they were on ground.
What are your challenges in this job as a command?
So far, the challenges we are facing in this job is that we don’t have a tanker. If we turn up at a fire scene, when the water in your tank is exhausted, you need to go back and refill before coming back to the scene.
I know that our controller general is working towards getting us a tanker. In other commands, we do have, but here inn Calabar command, we don’t have ambulance. Another challenge is that in times of emergencies, we still need to cooperation of people of Cross River State. Fire is not something that you can just respond immediately. They should exercise patience with us.
How is the reaction of residents when you get to fire scenes?
At times they will be so angry that the fire service is coming late. And this always happens where there is travel distance. So when they call us, we cannot just fly and reach that place. There should be understanding with us in cases that involve travel distance.
How will you analyse the attitude of Cross River residents to your services?
But so far so good, Cross Riverians have been so hospitable; unlike in other states that they attack our men and vandalize our equipment. So we have a relationship with the Chief security officer, Dr. Alfred Mboto, so when we call him he will mobilize operations Akpakwu to accompany us to the fire scene.
Sometimes, these fights and vandalism are caused by the area boys, we come around fire scenes to loot and steal. That’s another challenge.
What is the state of your equipment?
All our equipment are intact and up to date, we shall show you around the facility. Our equipment are the latest modern version of fire fighting equipment globally.
As for substations, we don’t have any substations outside Calabar; we operate only from this one stations.
In terms of manpower, we have 31 fireman in Calabar command, there have not been any injury, incidence and or casualty from our men, we often go in the company of police and civil defence, so we have no injury or casualty. All our men are okay. And we are in safe hands. These appliances were just commissioned in September last year, so since then, we have not recorded any casualty, from the fire fighters.
How were you coping with your job before now?
“Before September when the equipments were commissioned, we were just running prevention departments, we went out for inspections and carry our risk assessments; the last one was at the University of Calabar.
Do you have any insurance cover?
We do operate an insurance policy, because you need to ensure any premise, for example, when we need this insurance policy, you need a certificate. So it’s from that risk assessment that is where you get your certification for your premise to be insured.
We have been doing inspections on risk assessments; so it is from there, you get the certificate to take to the insurance company for your premise to be well insured. So we already have a collaboration with an insurance company presently.
For now, there have not arisen any need for the application of the insurance policy, we are currently working on something at university of Calabar that will attract the application of the insurance policy, you know our command is still young.
This command was established six years ago. But we are better if you compare us with the state fire service. I was in Port Harcourt before I was transferred to come and start this place. We were just a 10- member team that started this command. Six were transferred to Akwa Ibom remaining four., that is how we grew to this point.
Tell us of about how many fire incidents you have combated recently
Our success are impressive, we have so far successfully turned down 15 Fire incidents, in Calabar. We have also don’t uncountable fumigation and decontamination exercises in the state, especially during the Covid-19 era and even at the post Covid period in compliance with the order from Abuja: we have fumigated the government house and several other federal establishment in the state: the governors Lodge, deputy governors apartment and house of assembly.