The Chief Fire Officer, Mr Edwin Blankson, has debunked claims making the rounds at the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) headquarters that he has reneged on his assurance to the staff not to effect any transfers to officers who are due for retirement in the coming year.
According to the staff, Mr Blankson upon his appointment gave the assurance that he was not going to transfer any person whose period of retirement was due but accused him of a broken promise when he got two directors to swap positions which resulted in the exchange of blows between those directors.
Two Deputy Chief Fire Officers of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) on Tuesday defied all security regulations and turned the premises of the headquarters of the service in Accra into a boxing arena to engage in open trading of blows in front of junior officers.
One of the senior officers, Mr Ekow Yawson, sustained bite wounds in the right palm after an almost 10 minutes trading of blows with his colleague, Mr Obeng Dankwa Dwamena.
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The two officers engaged in the fisticuffs over handover notes.
Reacting to claims by the fire service staff in an interview with Graphic Online on Thursday November 15, 2018, Mr Blankson said what he did was not a transfer since the two directors still had their offices within the headquarters.
“What happened was not a transfer. Nobody has been transferred outside of the headquarters. Gone are the days when people here were victimised with transfers to places across the country,” he said with fury.
The accusation against Mr Blankson was rife when the premises of the GNFS headquarters was a scene of attraction on Tuesday when two directors of the service exchanged blows over changes in their positions.
The encounter led to one of the directors landing a hefty blow on the face of the other while the other had his hand bitten.
It took the intervention of senior and junior officers of the service to intervene in the fight to calm down the brewing tension between the two senior men.
Highly placed sources at the service told Graphic Online that the Western Regional Commander of the GNFS, Mr Obeng Dwamena was transferred to Accra to head the Human Resource Department and recently made to head the Safety Department taking over from Mr William Yawson who had been made Director of ICT, Research and Monitoring.
But Mr Yawson’s transfer, according to one source, got him aggrieved because Mr Blankson had given assurance that those due for retirement in the next year would not be transferred but the sudden change of decision got the rank and file of the service staff perplexed.
Going into what brought about the fighting between Mr Dwanema and Mr Yawson, the source said at the time Mr Yawson was to resume his role as the Director of ICT, Research and Monitoring, the then director was not available for the new director to take office on the scheduled date on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 until the next day.
The source stated that after the handing over to Mr Dwamena from Mr Yawson, the latter complained that the handing over notes was not properly done and therefore, demanded more from the former director of safety.
“Mr Dwamena threatened at a management meeting that he will force Mr Yamson to hand over to him properly but Mr Yamson upon hearing about the threat did not take kindly to it,” the source indicated.
And on Tuesday, according to the source, Mr Dwamena headed to Mr Yamson’s office at the Research and Monitoring Department to demand of the latter to hand over to him properly and that confrontation resulted in a fight between the two men which attracted officers and men of the GNFS to intervene.
Graphic Online has gathered that there is uneasy calm among the rank and file of the personnel of the fire service as far as transfers are concerned.
Officers who were appointed to certain positions in the era of the immediate past Chief Fire Officer, Dr Abert Brown Gaisie are said to be victimised while others aligned to the current fire service boss are promoted without due process.
This, according to sources at the fire service headquarters, had polarised the service along partisan lines
Mr Blankson has further been accused of appointing one Assistant Chief Fire Officer Paa Kwasi Adutwum as his Chief Staff officer, a position that had never existed in the fire service structure.
Some of the staff Graphic Online interviewed explained that, that position was strategically created to place Mr Adutwum above the position of Deputy Chief Fire Officers who were supposed to be close advisers to the Chief Fire Officer but had been relegated to the background.
“Adutwum, unofficially though, assumed the position of the administration and finance Director, logistics director, safety director, director human resource and training and others. Indeed Adutwum is the chief fire officer in the making, he decides and takes decision on the day to day activities of the service,” an aggrieved officer told Graphic Online.
Some of the staff accused Mr Adutwum of taking total control of the recruitment exercise of the service and he makes decisions about who was qualified for any stage in time irrespective of qualification and assessment.
When contacted, Mr Yawson admitted the attack on him saying that Mr Dwamena walked into his office and for no reason launched an attack on him which resulted in a scuffle.
Equally, Mr Adutwum, when reached by Graphic Online debunked the claims against him and stated that his position as chief of staff to the chief fire officer was an appointed one and therefore, did not matter his rank.