Turning Point At The Federal Fire Service – By Evelyn Kasang Bako
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for Good works”… Eph.2:10
A ground breaking record has been set in the Federal Fire Service, which will require another group of selfless, passionate and visionary leaders to replicate in future.
Engr. Anebi Garba Joseph is the 2nd Controller General of the Federal Fire Service. He is an Engineer by Profession from the University of Agriculture With a post-graduate degree in Agricultural Engineering from University of Agriculture Makurdi. He is a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Fire Protection Association of Nigeria and Nigeria Institute of Safety Professionals. The controller General bagged so many laurels some of which are, Certified Protection Professionals, Hamzat Specialist Firefighter 1V, Safety Officer and Distinguished Service. Engr, Anebi Joseph Garba held the Senior Professional Management positions both in the Ministry of Works and Federal Fire Service spanning Head of Inspectorate Unit Ijora Centeral Workshop Lagos, Head of R & AC Workshop/Mechanical Project in Bauchi, Head of Mechanical Workshop FMW&H Mabushi Abuja, Head of Federal Fire Service Workshop, Head of Policy Regulatory and Inspectorate Federal Fire Service Abuja, Head of Logistics, Federal Fire Service Abuja.
The laudable achievements of Engr. J.G. Anebi as the 2nd Controller General of the Federal Fire Service cannot be relished without understudying the history of the Federal Fire Service and its remarkable journey so far.
Urbanization and industrialization birth the need for human safety and the prevention of fire outbreaks. In Nigeria before 1906, the only form of fighting fire was by conveying water jars, pots and dry sand to inferno sites although it was crude and inadequate, that was the easiest form of combating fire disasters.
The expansion of city centers in Nigeria Lagos in particular awaked a dire need to combat fire outbreaks. Interestingly, by 1906 during the colonial regime, fire fighting started becoming scientific and mechanized, it began as the Lagos Fire Brigade under the control of the Nigeria Police Force. But as cities began to grow, industrial activities increased so also the frequency of fire outbreaks.
These however, increased the need for expansion of fire fighting stations; as a result more fire stations were established. With an act of parliament in 1963 the Fire Brigade pulled out from the Nigeria Police and became a paramilitary safety organization saddled with the responsibility of fighting fire, saving and protection of lives and property. Its responsibilities also include humanitarian services and emergency response.
In addition, some of the objectives of the Federal Fire Service are to empower fire fighting personnel and make provision of fire fighting equipments.
However, there are records and stories of milestone achievements in the Fire Service which includes an increase in the number of fire fighting personnel, improved fire fighting equipments and positive adjustment in the structural organization of the Service.
Since its inception, the fire fighting Service has gone through stages of metamorphosis, but the most eventful is the phenomenal history that has been made in the dispensation of Engr. Joseph Garba Anebi, the Controller General of the Federal Fire Service.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us…if it is contributing to the needs of others…let him do it cheerfully”. Romans 12:7
The year 2014 was the dawn of a new era in the Federal Fire Service when Eng. Joseph Garba Anebi became the Controller General. He received the baton on the 4th of August, 2014 during the Goodluck Jonathan regime. Some of the challenges that greeted the CG on arrival were dilapidated infrastructures, lack of promotions, inadequate welfare packages, obsolete machineries, lack of training of fire men and a host of others.
As the compassionate and hardworking leader he is, Eng. Anebi understood that satisfaction and welfare of Officers is sacrosanct to productivity and development of the Service. As such, he ensured that Officers and men were not denied their rights and privileges.
In 2016, he promoted 180 Officers and men of the Service. This singular act sets him aside and revealed his passion and vision for the Service and humanity at large. This is also an indicator that he understands the need for adequate welfare of personnel as sine-quanon for productivity and growth. These he did without neglecting the significance of spiritual connection in every human life, as such The CG, has high regard for spirituality a Church and a mosque were built for members of worshipers.
In a bid to overhaul the Fire Service, he embarked on refurbishing and servicing of broken down and obsolete equipments, upgrade of old facilities examples are the building of hostel facilities for the academy, libraries, staff quarters and tarring of road. As part of corporate responsibilities, he motivated and encouraged the various departments that are responsible for setting projects in motion.
In recognition of the tireless effort of the Firemen in combating fire outbreaks, the CG established new Fire Stations within the Federal Capital city and other States. This initiative encouraged a cordial relationship with the Borno State government, Kogi State among others, to establish a State Fire Service.
Furthermore in February 2018, the North West Zonal Office of the Service in Kano State was commissioned with modern and sophisticated equipments to enhance fire fighting activities in that area.
Another laudable achievement of Eng. J.G. Anebi is his passion for human resource development. This he demonstrated by creating sponsorship for States Fire Service personnel to be trained on enforcement of the National Fire Service Code, ICT and other relevant areas. This is a salient and commendable achievement that marveled the entire Service.
Insurance cover for staff in cases of accidents or deaths was duly paid. Nothing beats this kind of vision in any reputable organization.
As a proof of the CG’s quest for excellence and intellectual prowess, he widened the scope of the conference of Directors of States Fire Service the last which was held in Enugu State to encompass stakeholders to collaborate in fire fighting activities in the country.
He also the introduced academic journal for the purpose of gathering thoughts and ideas from scholars in Nigeria with respect to fire fighting activities in the country.
As an icing on the cake, the National Fire Academy has just been affiliated to the Nigeria Defense Academy through a Memorandum of Understanding for the awards of Postgraduate Diplomas, Degrees and Professional Masters Degrees in Disaster Management. This is a milestone achievement not just to Federal Fire Service but to the Nigerian populace. This development will attract Officers from the West African coast to enroll into the Academy.
Another heart-warming achievement is the Junior Fire Officers Training School established in Minna, Niger State to cater for skilled training of Men of the Federal Fire Service.
Last but not the least is the procurement and commissioning of new modern and sophisticated fire fighting trucks, water tankers and other fire fighting equipments for the country Courtesy the Controller General, a whopping sum of 4.6billion naira was approved by the federal government with the support of the Minister of Interior Lt. Abdulrahaman Danbazau, for the acquisition of the aforementioned equipments and every penny was judiciously expended on that.
Suffice to say, after a long while the Federal Fire Service is enjoying the breath of fresh air, of growth, development and modernization. Eng. Joseph Garba Anebi is the man who came, saw and conquered in accordance to his faith in Romans 8:37… “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
Evelyn Kasang Bako, is a lecturer, Kaduna State University.