The Sokoto State Fire Service said on Thursday that it recorded 11 deaths and saved 77 lives in 533 fire incidents it responded to in the state in 2017.
Alhaji Murtala Muhammad, the Director-General of the State Fire Service, gave the figures in an interview with our reporter in Sokoto.
He said six persons were rescued while properties valued at N3.1 billion were lost, with the agency being able to save N4.2 billion worth of properties during the period under review.
Muhammad blamed the fire incidents on electrical sparks and negligence, urging residents to be vigilant and embrace safety measures.
He said the organization has 18 functional fire-fighting vehicles and 13 operational fire stations equipped with modern fire-fighting tools within Sokoto metropolis.
According to him, the Aminu Tambuwal-led administration bought 10 new vehicles, refurbished the existing ones and constructed eight fire stations.
He said the administration also drilled two boreholes and provided two water tankers as back-up to facilitate the agency’s activities.
Muhammad also lauded the state government for the prompt supply of chemicals used in putting out fires as well as the provision rain boots and jackets.
“ At present, the organisation has 142 workers whose salaries are being paid regularly and also enjoying shift and hazard allowances,’’ the fire chief said.
He, however, appealed to the state government to provide the organisation with an ambulance to complement its services to victims without waiting for responses from hospitals which may delay emergency services.
The director-general also requested for the employment of additional 300 or 400 workers to effectively man the vehicles as 24 personnel were needed to handle each fire-fighting vehicle in the three shifts.
Muhammad, who noted that each of the 23 local government areas in the state has a fire-fighting vehicle, urged the government to promptly deploy them equitably after refurbishment.
He commended the cordial working relationship existing between the organisation and other security agencies such as the Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The fire chief, who noted that the state government was the sole financier of the agency, pointed out that it was also not accessing support from national and international bodies.
He, however, said that assistance on manpower training, advocacy and equipment would enhance the agency’s operations.
The director-general said that Gov. Aminu Tambuwal’s efforts on fire prevention and safety of lives and properties fetched him a prestigious fire safety award.