The Central Regional Command of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) has trained 93 fire volunteers to combat fires in their areas of jurisdiction.
They were drawn from communities including Gomoa Afransi, Gomoa Obuasi, Gomoa Akwamu, and Agona-Swedru all in the Gomoa Central District and Agona West Municipal Assemblies.
The volunteers were given weeks of training in basic firefighting, prevention, use of fire extinguishers, foot drills, and other improvised extinguishing.
The move was a collaboration with the aforementioned Assemblies and P. S. Trade, a German Organization that deals in fire safety equipment.
The volunteers will serve as a fire safety guards and peer educators in the communities.
At a passing-out ceremony at Agona-Swedru, Assistant Chief Fire Officer I (ACFOI), John Amarlai Amartey, the Regional Commander of GNFS said the country’s law mandated all Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies to institute bush fire control sub-committees which will regulate the burning of vegetation.
Therefore, he said the training of the fire volunteers was an attempt to combat rampant bushfires often with careless abandon and its associated dire ramifications, particularly on the rural economy.
He indicated that bushfires were a threat to national food security, particularly governments’ Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) and farmers’ livelihoods.
“Bushfires are a challenge to government’s PFJ, making GNFS a key stakeholder for the sustainability of the policy,” he noted.
The Regional Commander implored the fire volunteers to exhibit a high sense of professionalism in the discharge of their duties to prevent the degradation of the environment.
He cited practices that caused bushfires as charcoal burning, usage of naked fire in hunting, smoking activities, cooking on farms, and deliberately setting up fires to grassland by herdsmen to get greener grass for cattle to graze on, among others.
Similarly, he asked farmers to notify the fire volunteers whenever they were about to engage in such activities on their land, to prevent the fire from getting out of hand.
He said anyone caught setting fire to the bush indiscriminately will be severely dealt with according to the law.
Mr Evan Coleman, the Municipal Chief Executive for Agona West, gave an account of government’s efforts to retool the GNFS and rally institutions to support it.
With excitement, the volunteers displayed foot drills and firefighting demonstrations to the admiration of the audience.
He said the assembly could no longer continue to ignore the staggering destruction of goods, forest reserves, buildings, food barns, and other natural resources through rampant bushfires.
He admonished the volunteers to educate the people on the need to refrain from fires that could destroy the environment.