Some workers at the Akwa Ubom State Fire Service have said that the equipment at their disposal are not enough to tackle fire outbreaks, even as many staff of the Fire Service have retired.
They lamented that almost 80 per cent of our staff strength were retired and the state government had failed to recruit and fill existing vacancies.
This was revealed as Akwa Ibom residents expressed worry over the deplorable and non-functional state of the Fire Service, saying their lives were under threat in the event of a fire outbreak.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, one of the victims of a recent inferno, Sunday Bassey, is one among many citizens who feel unsafe and unprotected especially after narrowly escaping alive when fire razed his house.
Bassey, whose house was almost completely burnt in the incident, said the Fire Service in Eket failed to show up to put out the fire even after a distress call was made.
He noted that it was the intervention of neighbours that saved the whole house from being razed.
“The fire started from the warehouse which is near my own room. My landlord’s wife’s sister and his daughter put a smouldering firewood inside the warehouse which they used to cook.
“Luckily for us, our neighbours climbed up the roof to put out the fire. This was at about 11pm to 12 midnight on Monday. Unfortunately, the fire service did not come. Even with the calls my colleague made to them, the only one that responded was the Federal Fire Service in Abuja. They promised to reach out to the fire service in Eket but up till when my neighbours put out the fire, I didn’t see any of them. They didn’t even call or ask.
“I am just imagining; had the fire affected someone else, if not for our nice neighbours, the fire would have burnt down the whole house. That night I slept in my neighbour’s place while my children slept somewhere far from the house. Yesterday, I slept in my parlour,” he stated.
The Commissioner for Works and Fire Service, Prof. Eno Ibanga, admitted that the agency had been comatose over the years, adding that the government would revamp the service.