The federal government yesterday disclosed that it had initiated the process of repealing the 1963 Fire Service Act, which had become obsolete and out-dated.
The Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola revealed the plan at the 11th National Conference on Fire held in Jos, the Plateau State capital, saying the process would lead to a new contemporary and enforceable law via the instrument of executive bill.
Aregbesola, who was represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Shuaib Belgore, said when eventually passed into law, the bill would address the challenges faced by firefighters during operations through mob action, and vandalisation of fire-fighting assets at the scene of fire incidents.
The minister said the challenge would be addressed by creation of an arm-bearing unit to be referred to as Fire Police whose duty would be to provide armed outer cordon during operations as other sister agencies are now over stretched with other security challenges.
He also, noted that the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) needed “to collaborate with the Fire Service to ensure the release of the 0.025% of collectable fire insurance premium by insurance firms for the purpose of fire-fighting equipment maintenance as provided in the Insurance Act of 2003.
“Nigeria deserves a better deal in terms of safety management and the agency saddled with this responsibility has discharged its responsibility credibly in the face of daunting challenges due to budgetary constraints.”
Meanwhile, Chairman House Committee on Interior, Hon. Victor Asare said the National Assembly was ready to rebuild, amend and change any Act given, in order to have a robust fire service in the country.
“We are also making a call to the 36 states, including the FCT, to strengthen and buy competent and modern fire-fighting equipment. The federal government has changed the phase of the fire service compared to the past; a lot has improved, equipment has been purchased.
“It is a challenging time in the country; you cannot work in an environment where there is ear. We therefore call on Nigerians to give peace a chance so that the fire service can do their job”, he added.
On his part, Lalong lamented that fire disaster “has caused enormous losses running into billions of Naira and has unfortunately taken the lives of many Nigerians. Yet, sadly, the subject has not been given adequate attention in our national discourse.”