Continuous shouts of fire was the echoing sound at all floors of the magnificent seven-storey Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) building in Sunyani at 1000 hours on Thursday, as all occupants rushed out of the edifice for safety.
As the shouts of fire subsided, a teeming crowd of people, particularly within the central business district of Sunyani, had been attracted to the precincts of the building to satisfy their curiosity because they had heard announcements by some of the local FM Radio Stations that there was fire outbreak at the Cocoa House.
In less than 10 minutes, personnel from the Sunyani Municipal and the Regional headquarters of the (GNFS) arrived at the scene in full gear with fire tender and turn-table ladder to extinguish the fire.
The Firemen with the hoses and the branch pipes geared up to fight the fire, but ?it was a fire simulation exercise?.
The process started from the evacuation of the building, the ladder rescue where a casualty was brought down through fireman for resuscitation before a stand-by ambulance conveyed the fellow to hospital, Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO) Mr. Samuel Offei Adade, Brong-Ahafo Regional Fire Commander, explained to the Ghana News Agency (GNA).
ACFO Adade said the rationale behind the exercise was to test the readiness of the occupants in the building to flee for safety, and also to sensitize and ascertain the response of about 23 trained fire wardens in case of an emergency situation of the sort.
The fire wardens were selected by the Management of the COCOBOD and trained by the personnel of the GNFS about a month ago on basic principles and ways of responding to emergencies during outbreaks.
ACFO Adade who described the exercise as very successful because both the fire wardens and the occupants responded promptly, said the Cocoa House was the tallest building, not only in Sunyani but the entire Brong-Ahafo, so it also served as a test case of readiness of his outfit under such a circumstance.
Divisional Officer Grade Two (DOII) Kwasi Baffuor-Awuah, Sunyani Municipal Fire Commander, said the turn-table ladder was used because of the height of the building, to rescue people from the fifth floor, and also supplied water to fight the fire on the sixth floor.
He said the turn-table ladder was brought from Kumasi, ostensibly for the exercise, because the GNFS did not have one in Brong-Ahafo.
DOII Baffuor-Awuah said its importance was not limited to fighting fire outbreak in high rise buildings, but where there was no access to a point of fire outbreak on the ground, it could be used in place of fire tender.
He, therefore, appealed to insurance companies and other corporate business concerns, particularly in Brong-Ahafo, to assist government to procure one for the region.
Mrs. Monica Ortsin, the Regional Administrator of the COCOBOD, said COCOBOD and its subsidiaries, 38 public and private firms and organisations with a total of 252 staff, were occupying the building.
Mrs. Ortsin disclosed that Management of COCOBOD, in collaboration with the Regional Command of the GNFS organized a two-day sensitization seminar on fire safety and prevention for the tenants (companies and their staff) about two months ago, and followed it up with a one-week training for the fire wardens.
She said the wardens, two each from the first to the sixth floor, were selected in addition to 11 security men of COCOBOD, to make up the number.
Mrs. Ortsin also appealed to the President to procure a turn-table ladder for the Regional Command of the GNFS, saying besides the Cocoa House, other high rise buildings were being built in Sunyani.
Mr. Joshua Yobe Daamang, Administrative Manager of Sky Broadcasting Limited, a Sunyani-based FM Radio Station, who is one of the wardens, told the Ghana News Agency that their primary function was to alert and guide occupants in the building to an assembly point for safe evacuation.
Source : GNA/newsghana.com.gh