The country lost in excess of GH¢64 million to 6,796 fire outbreaks last year alone, Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has announced.
Those incidents, he said, resulted in 50 deaths and 241 injuries.
He described the situation as unacceptable and one that “we must all come together and find a solution to”.
In that regard, Dr Bawumia said, the GNFS would receive 200 rapid intervention vehicles from the government before the end of the year to augment its fleet of operational vehicles.
He said a prototype of the vehicles was already in the country, and that the rest would also be assembled in the country.
Dr Bawumia, who was addressing the graduation parade of the Cadet Course Intake 23 of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) at the Fire Academy and Training School at James Town in Accra last Friday, indicated that fire outbreaks had dealt a big blow to many individuals, organisations, institutions and even the government.
The repercussions of these losses, especially with the loss of human lives, he said, had been dire and still difficult to grapple with.
He said the fight for fire safety was far from over, as it required continuous attention and a concerted effort to consolidate the gains so far made and improve upon their achievements.
That, he said, would require collective efforts of all and sundry by way of adherence to fire safety messages and practices to avoid the occurrence of fire outbreaks.
He, therefore, urged the officers of the service to continue to educate the public, urging them to find more innovative and creative means to spread fire safety news to every nook and cranny of the country.
Dr Bawumia said two additional Fire Academy and Training schools and a Fire College were under construction at Duayaw Nkwanta in the Ahafo Region, Wungu in the North East Region and Kyebi in the Eastern Region, respectively, with the first phase of all these three projects scheduled for completion by the end of September.
“Government has also provided the service with two hydraulic platforms capable of reaching the 16th floor of a building to assist the service in dealing with fire and rescue situations on high-rise buildings,” he added, saying “It is in this direction that the government gave opportunity to the service to recruit 2,000 new entrants to improve your human resource capacity.”
In all, 339 officer cadets, made up of 210 males and 129 females, were commissioned into the officer corps of the GNFS.
Of the number,188 of the officers joined directly, while 151 were already serving officers.
Code-named Intake 23, the officer cadet course spanned 32 weeks, and it included 12 weeks of internship and field work and 20 weeks of intensive training at the Fire Academy.
The courses and training regime included officership and work ethics, corporate image development, public speaking and media relations, fire sciences, fire safety and operational fire and rescue courses.
The newly commissioned officers, as part of the ceremony, treated guests and the dignitaries, who included the Ga Mantse, Nii Tackie Teiko Tsuru II; the Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery; the Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul; the Chairman of the Fire Service Council, Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, and the Inspector General of Police, Dr George Akuffo Dampare, to slow and quick march demonstrations, with music from the fire service band.
The GNFS also used the occasion to unveil the new camouflage uniform of the service.
Dr Bawumia, who was the reviewing officer, said the government was aware of the enormity of the responsibility placed on the shoulders of personnel of the service which called for a considerable amount of resources to execute their obligation.
He said the government was also aware of expectations of the GNFS to receive new appliances to augment what was available for operational and administrative use, and stressed the commitment of the government to resource the service with the needed tools and equipment.
“This is very much evident in the number of projects that have sprung up at the Fire Academy and Training School in the spate of one year.
This expansion has enabled the Fire Academy and Training School to accommodate and train recruits three times more than its previous capacity,” the Vice-President said.
“Trainees have also been offered a more comfortable life while on training, and issues of overcrowding and the lack of basic amenities are now a thing of the past,” he added.
While charging the personnel to do more to curb the outbreak of fires and intensify fire education, Dr Bawumia advised the graduating officers not to rest on their oars but to strive even harder as firefighters.