The rate of fire outbreaks and other similar forms of disasters has profusely reduced in the Gambia, according to the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Gambia Fire and Rescue Services (GFRS), Mr. Muhammed Drammeh.
Speaking to Gambian Talent’s Prof Sakou Suwareh Jabai during a recent interview at his office in Bakau, the PRO said this is due to the recent initiative of the service to embark on a massive sensitization in the length and breadth of the country to inform the public about issues related to the prevention and mitigation of fire outbreaks in households. According to Mr. Drammeh, before this approach was initiated, they used to sit and wait for calls before they intervene but they have now realized the reason why fire outbreaks were happening habitually which was due to the people’s inadequate understanding on what to do in their houses to prevent the occurrence of fire outbreak or limit its escalation. He said the outreach has really paid off as over the years, they registered only few fire accidents. He spoke about the significance of their sensitization, saying they had visited a number of schools and secured weekly radio talk shows in various radio stations in the country.
According to him, one of the major challenges of the fire service is the issue of false calls. People call their emergency numbers lying of a fire outbreak at a particular place. This, he said, is mostly done on April ‘April Fool day’, and it had caused a great loss of energy and resources to the GFRS. However, PRO Drammeh noted that this has become a culture for the longest but has now reduced drastically as they continue to sensitize the people about its dangers and how fatal it can be on the lives and properties of other people. He said this year’s April 1st was a clear testimony as none of their stations receive false calls of such. He therefore thanked the public for their cooperation.
On the rate of other forms of rescue operations, Mr. PRO said it has created an alarming situation in the rural areas and Brikama in particular. He said they are still talking to the people about the prevention methods. He echoed that they still receive cases of animals and children falling in wells. Mr. Drammeh added that majority of these cases involves places that have wells covered by 3 or 4 motor tires around the well. This, he added, can be detrimental and advised parents and compound owners to raise the level of their well covers and be cautious in their environments, especially where there are children and animals.
The GFRS PRO enjoined the public to trust the fire service, saying one should always trust the person whose work is to safe their lives and properties. He said people sometimes try to fight the fire on their own without calling the attention of the fire service, thinking that the fire service will be late to arrive or they will not come along with enough water. Mr. Drammeh added that in doing so, many people will lose their lives and valuable assets. “I just want the people to trust us. The fire service of today are professional firemen and women and they have the willingness to protect the lives of the Gambian people no matter what it takes,” he concluded emphasizing that this is why they are training their officers both internationally and externally to raise their standards in taking up challenges that they may face in their line of operations.
By Prof Saikou Suwareh Jabai
For Gambian Talents Business