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19.04.2004 Regional News

Upper East Fire Service Committee Inaugurated

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Bolgatanga, April 19, GNA - The Upper East Region last year recorded 63 domestic fire outbreaks, which resulted in a loss of private and public property valued at more than 400 million cedis.

The Regional Minister, Mr. Mahami Salifu disclosed this on Monday during a ceremony held at Bolgatanga to inaugurate the Region's Fire Service Committee.

He said while the government would continue to equip the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) to improve on its efficiency, the general public should be encouraged to embrace simple fire control and prevention techniques to minimize the impact of fire outbreaks when they do occur. Mr. Salifu said a major environmental challenge to the people of the region is how to tackle the perennial ritual of indiscriminate bushfires alongside and those negative farming practices that continue to degrade the fragile soils.

He, therefore, urged personnel of GNFS not to relent in their educational campaigns to change attitudes towards the need for community involvement in the control, prevention and management of all kinds of fire outbreaks.

Mr. Salifu, who is also the chairman of the seven-member regional fire committee, pledged the committee's readiness to bring on board all stakeholders like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Municipal and District Assemblies, and Local Authorities in efforts aimed at finding a lasting solution to the menace of bushfires in the region.

The Chairman of the Ghana National Fire Service Council, Lieutenant Colonel Alex Aryee, in an inaugural speech read on his behalf, urged the committee to seriously address critical fire prevention concerns such as water hydrant construction and maintenance, illegal connection of electricity and the prosecution of people caught setting indiscriminate bushfires.

He told the committee that it is also its responsibility to strengthen the activities of community bush fire volunteers, and ensure that the local people are actively involved in all their programmes.

" I know that we cannot eliminate the perennial bush fires completely, but we can do a lot to bring them down to an appreciable level", Lt. Col. Aryee pointed out and told the committee not to disregard the high cost of indiscriminate fire outbreaks to society.

The Council Chairman said since the purpose of establishing the regional fire committees is to decentralise the functions of the council for efficiency, members would be expected to co-ordinate and mobilise resources for fire fighting and prevention at the local level.

The committee is made up of the Regional Minister as chairman, the Regional Fire Officer, and representatives from the Regional House of Chiefs, Ghana Water Company, Volta River Authority, Town and Country Planning Department, and the Attorney-General's Department.

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