The House of Representatives is considering an expansion of the scope of operations of the fire service to include accidents and emergency situations in the transport sector and at construction sites in the real estate sector.
When the bill becomes law, officers of the fire service who show gallantry will be specially rewarded.
This proposal is contained in the legislation titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Fire Service Act, Cap. F29, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and Enact the Fire and Emergency Service Bill to Provide for Additional Powers for Effective Service Delivery; and for Related Matters.’
The bill passed second reading at the plenary on Tuesday.
Sponsor of the bill, Mr Adejoro Adeogun, while leading the debate for the second reading, said the proposal was to provide for additional powers and expansion of responsibilities of the fire service
He said, “The major achievements of this amendment bill, if passed, would be to build the capacity of the fire and emergency service to respond to disasters with greater synergy and efficiency. It would also elevate the fire and emergency service from the backend to the frontline of disaster management. The bill will also open new frontiers for the creation of jobs through engagement of able bodied youths into the fire and emergency service.
“Nigeria has in the past lost lives and billion-dollar assets to fire, flood and similar disasters. This bill hopes to lay the foundation for mitigating future disasters and saving the nation from avoidable loss of lives and resources.”
Adeogun noted that the Fire Service Act (1963) saddled the Fire Service with the responsibility of mitigating fire disasters and combating fire emergencies.
“This narrow scope of responsibility precludes non-fire disasters such as flooding, building collapse, air and road accidents and such other natural disasters that may or may not be accompanied by fire and for which emergency rescue is required,” he said.
The lawmaker added, “This bill addresses this gap by expanding the scope of responsibilities of the fire service to include fire and non-fire related emergencies such as flooding, building collapse, construction site accidents, mining collapse, and related land, sea and air accidents.
“This bill also seeks to introduce stricter penalties for violation of building codes, fire regulations, impersonation of fire service personnel and unlawful disclosure of privileged information obtained in the course of emergencies.”
The lawmaker listed the specific goals of the bill, saying it is to “prevent and mitigate all fire disasters as well as accidents occasioned by flooding, construction accidents, road and air accidents and other preventable disasters.”
He added that it would “encourage investment in fire and emergency equipment by states, local government councils and corporate organizations to improve response to emergencies.
“Establish the Office of the Fire and Emergency Chief for day to day management of the activities of the fire and emergency service.
“Empower the Fire and emergency service chief to mobilise resources for the training, equipping and deployment of fire and emergency personnel for prompt response to emergencies.
“Provide for the establishment of a Fire and Emergency Service Reward Fund to reward fire and emergency fire officers.”