The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) was set up to prevent undesirable fires, and to protect life and property among others. This means the personnel mandated to discharge these duties must be trained and certified by recognised professional institutions
However, The Chronicle’s investigation has revealed that the service is using unqualified personnel to execute this dangerous task. These unqualified personnel are predominantly found in the transport department as drivers of the fire tenders.
Sources that spoke to The Chronicle said drivers of the fire tenders have not been licensed by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), and that they were employed as firefighters.
The Chronicle was further told that for fear of being punished for driving without a license in case there is a serious accident, these drivers have been putting pressure on the management to acquire licenses from the DVLA for them, but nothing has been done about it.
Some of the drivers also told The Chronicle in interviews that they made attempts to use unorthodox means to acquire the driver’s license, but they backtracked because they could not afford the money being demanded by the middlemen, popularly known as ‘goro boys.’
The Chronicle also established that some of the drivers, fearing the consequences of the illegal thing they are doing, stopped driving the fire tenders since they were not employed as drivers, but as fire fighting men and women. The action, unfortunately, incurred the wrath of management, which placed an embargo on their salaries for months. The ‘drivers’ are also insisting that in case of an accident or serious calamity, the question, ‘who authorised you to drive’, comes in.
The paper’s investigation also revealed that the service is not supposed to charge for the humanitarian services it renders, but management has made it a point to commercialise such services and no accounts on the proceeds are rendered. Examples are services to hospitals and educational institutions.
The recovery truck which is purposely to assist in emergencies is not left out in the commercialisation of the services.
When The Chronicle contacted the Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Administration and Finance, Mr Julius Kunor, he referred this reporter to the Directorate of Public Relations.
The Public Relations Officer, Mr Robinson Okoe, The Chronicle was told, had also travelled.
His Deputy, Leticia Akaadiini, told this reporter that it is an offence for an unlicensed person to drive the fire tenders. According to her, drivers for the service are employed based on the applicant’s ability to drive and possess a specified grade of a license issued by DVLA.
When engaged, she continued, the GNFS itself takes these drivers through special training on how to handle the fire tenders. Leticia further said all services rendered by the GNFS are absolutely free, and that no officer must charge for the humanitarian services so performed.