The 2019/ 2020 national anti-bush fire campaign has been launched at Adaklu-Anfoe in the Adaklu District of the Volta Region with a call on the public to get involved in the prevention of bushfires for accelerated socio-economic development.
Mr Edwin Ekow Blankson, the Chief Fire Officer, Ghana National and Fire Service (GNFS), said the Annual Bush Fire Prevention Campaign has over the years provided great opportunities for the Service to sensitize the public on the devastating impact of bush fires and the need for concerted efforts to stop bushfires.
The Chief Fire Officer said the GNFS would continue to champion the bush fire prevention campaign in communities across the country to ensure that investments in agriculture, capital projects, the environment and wildlife are protected.
He said the Service in its quest to take advantage of available technology in bush fire management, contacted the University of Energy and Natural Resources to link up the Information Communication Technology platform of the GNFS with the Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS) of the University to achieve real time monitoring, detection and alerting through satellite.
Mr Blankson said the link would enable the Service to respond effectively and timely to incidents of bush fires and also help the Service to do quick assessment of damage caused by bush fires to the environment, life or property.
He said since the inception of the campaign, bush fire volunteer squads play vital roles in the success of the campaigns in various communities across the country.
Mr Blankson said “bush fire prevention is no longer attractive to the youth” and his outfit is putting the necessary measures in place to rebrand the Rural Fire Concept to make it more attractive to the youth to get involved.
Mr Ambrose Dery, Minister for Interior, in a speech read on his behalf, said the benefits that the country derive from its forest and vegetation cannot be overemphasized hence the need to protect and preserve them because they had direct bearing on “our continuous existence on this earth.”
The Minister said though the country has discovered oil in commercial quantities, agriculture remains the largest employer of its labour force and all necessary measures must be put in place to preserve and protect the forest and the vegetation “which is the main resource of our farmers.”
Mr Dery urged the GNFS not to rest on its oars and continue to develop innovative ways of safeguarding the country through prevention and combating bush fires as well as making fire volunteers more efficient and effective.
He called on the management of the GNFS to strengthen the Fire Volunteer Concept “which seems to be dying” and also develop ways, which would ensure that the volunteers are well motivated to continue with their work in safeguarding communities against bush fires for accelerated socio-economic development.
Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, Volta Regional Minister, said the wanton destruction of the country’s vegetation, livestock and property through indiscriminate setting of fires to bushes has over the years negatively impacted on the sustainability of the environment.
He said bushfires poses a great threat to government’s planting for food and job initiative and urged the GNFS to train more fire volunteers to assist farmers adopt good farming practices that would help prevent any unwanted fires.
Dr Letsa urged religious leaders to join the campaign to educate their members on the need to protect the land against bushfires and also called for training and sensitization of students in Fire Safety Measures so that they would be deployed as Anti-Bushfire and Environmental Ambassadors.
Togbe Agbobada IV, Dufia of Adaklu Anfoe, called for stiffer punishment for people who go against rules and regulations protecting the forest.
He said Adaklu- Anfoe has been chosen to host the event because of its commitment to national development and protection of the environment as well as its readiness to serve as ambassador in disseminating information across board.