Jos - Twenty eight persons died from fire incidents in Plateau in 2012, Mr Michael Dung, Director, Plateau Fire Service Command, said.
Dung told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos on Friday that the command was able to save 13 persons and property worth N4.1 billion within the period.
According to him, the command received 221 fire calls throughout the period, and that property worth N302 million were destroyed.
The director, however, lamented that inadequate water sources and supply had continued to impede service delivery by the fire-fighting men.
``Currently, fire stations get water from the Plateau water treatment plant; this is not supposed to be so because it slows us down.
``My staffers have been up and doing in fighting fire in spite of the enormous challenges.
``We travel long distances to get water; whenever water finishes in far away areas like Farin-Gada, we have to travel to Bukuru to refill.
``The distance is about 20 kilometres away and fire will not wait for anyone,’’ he said.
He noted that travelling long distances to get water was not an ideal thing as the command was supposed to have hydrants at every two kilometres so that the travelling distances could be shortened.
``That will enable us tackle fire effectively,” he added.
He said that manpower was also a challenge, adding that the station had ``just 70 per cent of its required manpower."
The officer, however, disclosed that 200 persons had been shortlisted for employment and were awaiting approval from the government for their employment to ease that difficulty.
Other challenges, he said, include traffic jams usually encountered when rushing to put off fire.
He also expressed unhappiness at people’s reluctance to call in the fire service department whenever there was an inferno, and appealed to the public to change that attitude so as to safeguard life and property.
The officer reminded members of the public that the service was free advising them to report any officer asking for anything before or after performing his duty.
He also called for fire safety consciousness and for house owners, corporate organisations and motorists to have fire extinguishers and be proactive.
``People should also be alert and turn off all electrical appliances before leaving their houses while the act of burning bushes around residential areas should be discouraged,” he advised.
Meanwhile, the Plateau Government has awarded a N41 million contract for the construction of a headquarter for the state Fire Service as well as a Fire Service Training Institution in Jos South.
According to Dung, the development would ensure optimal performance in fire fighting.
He said that foundation laying ceremony of the headquarters and institute would come up next week.
He said that the fire service command had refurbished 11 fire trucks which were hitherto off the road.
``We have also purchased additional fire fighting equipment worth N11.2 million and hoped to get even more support from the state government very soon.,"
Dung said that the command had dispatched some equipment to Langtang, Shendam and Bokkos, and called for support from members of the public to ensure efficiency.