The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) has inaugurated a smoke chamber with breathing apparatuses at the Fire Academy and Training School (FATS) for the training of its personnel.
The smoke chamber will expose firefighters to the act of combatting fires in confined spaces and prepare them for real-life situations.
It has been named after the late Group Officer One (GOI) Hannah Yawson of the GNFS, a female firefighter who lost her life in the line of duty some years ago.
In his address to inaugurate the smoke chamber in Accra last Wednesday, the Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, commended the hierarchy of the service for the initiative.
He said the need to train all incident responders in the use of the breathing apparatus in response to emergency situations could not be overemphasised because the built environment in the country had become very sophisticated.
He said it was important that the facility was deployed in an effective manner to train all operational firefighters in order for them to become proficient in the use of the breathing apparatus during firefighting and rescue operations.
"The government recognises that effective training, coupled with adequate tooling, is critical for effective service delivery. The government will not relent to build the capacity of firefighters to enable the service to work efficiently," he said.
Mr Dery said plans were far advanced to procure hydraulic platforms to aid in fighting fires in high-rise buildings.
"Efforts are also being made by the government to recruit more personnel and to improve the supply of major operational equipment, including foam compounds, firefighting hoses, breathing apparatuses, firefighting suits and fire combat boots and to also ensure that the Road Traffic Collision Unit of the service, is well equipped, considering the increasing spate of accidents on our roads in recent times," he said.
He added that the government acknowledged the challenges the service was facing with respect to training infrastructure, equipment and overseas training for instructors and was working hard to have them resolved.
For his part, the acting Chief Fire Officer of the GNFS, Mr Edwin Ekow Blankson, called on the Ministry for the Interior to provide all responders with insurance cover and a remunerative package for those who got injured in the course of duty and also for those who lost their lives in the line of duty, just as it was done in the police service.
He said a similar smoke chamber would be built at the Sekondi Fire Station and a third one sited in Bolgatanga.
Mr Blankson thanked the National Insurance Commission (NIC), the Benso Oil Palm Plantation Limited and the African Concrete Products (ACP) for their support in having the smoke chamber established.