By: Rancy S. Teewia
As Liberia yesterday joined the rest of the world to celebrate International Firefighters Day in Monrovia, under the theme “Enforcing prevention, reducing firefighting,” the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel F. McGill said has promised to launched a fire awareness campaign, saying that the Liberia National Fire service (LNFS) will be given one of the important priority under the Weah-led government in other to avoid destruction of lives and properties through fire tragedies.
“I want to assure you Director Dickson that under the Administration of H.E President George M. Weah, the Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS) will be given one of the important priorities in order to protect lives and properties,” Minister McGill promised.
He made the statement at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) Military Barracks where he served as guest speaker for the International Firefighters Day.
Minister McGill noted that the issue of Fire is a collective responsibility, and added that every Liberian should see the Liberia National Fire Service as everyone’s responsibility.
Minister McGill asserted that giving the fire service of Liberia as a preferential priority is the only way Liberians will be able to protect themselves from losing lives and properties.
The minister further disclosed that his office will embark on national fire service awareness to sensitize Liberians on fire issues in order to minimize fire outbreaks in the country.
The Minister of State also assured the LNFS that his office will take charge of the budgetary allocation in creating the said awareness, adding, “I think we need to start creating an awareness to see fire prevention as one of national priority because that is the only way we can protect ourselves…”
He maintained that every day properties and lives are lost; but reasoned that if we can begin a fire service awareness, which he wants to lead, he will make sure to work with firefighters to provide all the budgetary support during this initiative.
“Fire prevention will be one of our major national priorities because fire has the propensity to destroy a whole nation,” Min. McGill emphasized.-
Meanwhile the Minister of State has extolled Director General of LNFS, Col. Alex K. Dickson, for his remarkable performance at the institution.
Minister McGill said under the leadership of Col. Dickson, the Liberia National Fire Service has transformed. Col. Dickson, he said, has made the LNFS as one of the important security institutions in Liberia.
“I want to thank Director Dickson and the leadership of the Liberia National Fire service. Under your leadership you have transformed Fire service to one of the important Security institutions of our country. You know in this country, fire service has been considered as one of the most relegated jobs in Liberia, but since Col. Dickson took over at the LNFS, personnel of the service feel motivated and I am proud that Liberia has very good fire fighters,” he said.
He continued, “I want to tell Director Dickson that in every institution, the service that you’ve provided, sacrifices that you’ve made for our citizens – we cannot pay you for it.”
He said the firefighters of Liberia risk themselves every day and night in order to save lives and properties.
He therefore acknowledged that the commemoration of the International Firefighters’ Day yesterday was only intended to celebrate the Firefighters of Liberia and the world at large for their sacrifices to the country and the world.
In the case of Liberia, Minister McGill noted, “Such sacrifices have been made for a little salary paid to them, saying “I want you to be proud of yourselves.”
Also speaking at the occasion, the Director General of the LNFS, Col. Alex Dickson has extended gratitude to President George M. Weah for his overwhelming support to the Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS).
“The president has given us five Fire Trucks which is the first of its kind since 1948, and the promise was made today by our distinguished guest speaker in 2018 May 4th on this same platform; accordingly, the promise was fulfilled in 2020 and we received six fire engineers.
He narrated that since president Weah took over the affairs of state, the Liberia National Fire Service has established branches in Montserrado and Buchanan City, Grand Bassa.
“Today is International Firefighters’ Day, and I am wholeheartedly impressed with the work our fighters do amidst the many challenges that we face every day,” Col. Dickson added
The Liberia National Fire Service Boss said the LNFS has negotiated and signed a five year fire training agreement in Washington D.C, the United States of America, in order to train some members of LNFS. Col. Dickson furthered that seven fire service officers are expected to travel for the first batch of training in Washington D.C, adding that under the agreement, the 35 firefighters are expected to be trained in five years’ time.
He also noted that Liberia National Fire Service has received a 40 feet container from Canada with firefighting equipment. “Hon. Guest Speaker, I travelled two, three times and every year and anytime I travel I always make sure that the Liberia National Fire Service will be number one priority,” Col. Dickson disclosed.
Every May 4 is set aside as International Firefighters day. The International Firefighters’ Day is an international holiday intended to support the lives lost by fire fighters and dedicated fire fighters who risk their lives every day to save life and property.
It all started with an incident on December 2, 1998, when a tragic event shook the Linton Community in Australia and the world when firefighters in Linton, Australia, a populated region in Victoria, were fighting a large bush fire and called for mutual aid.
This urgent mutual aid call brought the Geelong West Fire Brigade to the scene, not knowing the despair and tragedy that was in store.
Garry Vredeveldt, Chris Evans, Stuart Davidson, Jason Thomas, and Matthew Armstrong all loaded into the company’s truck were part of a strike team and were being sent to help extinguish the flames. As the five headed into the hot zone, the wind suddenly switched direction, engulfing the truck in flames and killing all five members, an unfortunate incident which inspired JJ Edmondson to bring about an international holiday now known as International Firefighters’ Day.