The Upper West Regional Command of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) has trained 300 fire volunteers in their quest to be combat ready during the harmattan season which begun in November and is expected to last till May.
At a passing-out ceremony to launch this year’s regional bushfire prevention campaign at Issa in the Daffiama/Bussie/Issa (DBI) District last Tuesday, various equipment including Willington boots, jackets and machete donated by the German International Cooperation (GIZ) were presented to the trained fire volunteers.
The Regional Commander of the GNFS, Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO) Abraham Nii Dodoo, said last year, they experienced 32 bushfires as against 43 in 2020 in seven out of the 11 districts, namely Nadowli – Kaleo, Jirapa, DBI, Wa East, Wa West, Sissala East and West.
“This constituted a 26 per cent reduction in the bushfire outbreaks due to intensified education and sensitisation,” he said.
These bushfires, Mr. Dodoo said resulted in the loss of 363 acres of farmlands cultivated with foodstuffs at an estimated cost of GH¢619,646.32.
He said although there was no death or casualty from the bushfires, 725 people including women and children were displaced.
Mr. Dodoo said thus the training of the fire volunteers was an attempt to prevent such occurrences in the future.
He said there were 15 fatalities and 41 casualties that were recorded in various fire incidents in 2021 as against one fatality and 26 casualties in 2020.
These fire incidents included domestic cases which topped the list with 98 cases, two industrial cases, vehicular -16, institutional – 15, electrical – 31 and commercial – 21. All these losses were estimated at the cost of GH¢3,569,428 for 2021 and GH¢1,007,571 for 2020.
ACFO Dodoo regretted that none of the municipal and district assemblies had established the mandatory Anti -bushfires control subcommittee as provided for under PNDC Law 229 Section (5).
The law states that “all Metropolitan/Municipal/District assemblies shall institute bush fire control sub-committee, which will regulate the burning of vegetation in MMDAs.”
He 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 such as charcoal burning, usage of naked fire in hunting, smoking activities, usage of fire in cooking on farms and deliberately setting up fires to grasslands by herdsmen with the intention of getting greener grass for cattle to graze on.
Mr. Dodoo said anyone caught setting up bushfire indiscriminately will be severely dealt with by the law.
The District Chief Executive of DBI, Mr. Nadi Imoro Sanda, appealed to the various stakeholders including traditional authorities to come together to brainstorm on how to address the menace to protect the environment for the present and future generations.