By MUHAMMED S. BAH
The Gambia Fire and Rescue Services (GFRS) Public Relation Officer (PRO), Muhammed Drammeh, on Tuesday, 31 January dispelled the information broadcast over state television that they went to a fire incident without having water in their Fire Tender vehicle.
Speaking to journalists at a press briefing held at his office in Fajara, the spokesperson of the Fire and Rescue Service described the information as misleading and unfounded.
PRO Drammeh explains that on the 30 January, 2017 the Gambia Radio & Television Services (GRTS), in their news broadcast 0f 20:00 hrs. and 22:00 hrs respectively, reported a fire incident which occurred at Fajara on the 29 January, 2017 at the compound of one Sami Jones, occupied by Edward Manga and family.
According to him, “In the statement, the reporter, (Isatou Jatta) indicated that the fire service who are well known for coming/arriving at fire scenes late, came late and did little effort in putting off the fire”.
Mr. Drammeh noted that “This is false and a misleading statement, the fire service therefore strongly condemned the act and assured the general public that the fire services are always ready to save and protect the lives and properties of all Gambians and none Gambians alike”.
He pointed out that “The reporter also said the fire started at around midnight which was not correct as well, the fire started well before midnight because our fire station at Bakau received a running call at around 23:46 hrs. which clearly shows that the fire starts before midnight”.
PRO Drammeh noted that their arrival late at the fire incident was because the fire service received the information late.
According to Drammeh, the person who reported the fire at Bakau fire station was one Malick Jeng from Fajara who drove a car from Fajara to the fire station to report the incident, adding that the distance covered can take someone 7-10 minutes’ drive to reach Bakau station which is enough to burn down 3 compounds, plus the time they took to return to the scene take another extra 10 munities.
PRO Drammeh further said another issue which aggravated the fire was that electricity was on while the fire was burning.
“My team phoned NAWEC to shut down power around the area but there was no response from NAWEC,” he said.
He further stated that the fire fighters decided to risk their lives and use their experience to put off the fire even though they were not supposed to take any action if the electricity is not shut down.
He said from the people interviewed by GRTS, they said the fire service came with no water in their tanks, adding that fire service has no use for the people,
“for them we understand their pain and lost”.
He added that that does not warrant any one to say something that is totally false and unfound.
“If you say fire service has no use but still you called them for help,” he pointed out.
He noted that the claim by Mr. Andrew John and Sainey Bojang that they went to the scene with an emrpty or half tank is unfounded.
Mr. Drammeh noted that the fire service vehicle had only 1,000 litres in its tank which got finished 2 minutes 10 seconds and there was no hydrant in the area.
He said hydrant is a place where firefighters use to get water from for firefighting fire, adding that in developed countries hydrants are found every 100 meters and now reduced to 50 meters, but in the Gambia it is hard to find one within every 2-3 kilometers which is the biggest challenge for the fire service as at now.
“So I challenge the GRTS to find out correct information from the relevant authority before airing anything on national news,” he asserted.
He further stated that GRTS should contact the PRO for clarification on any information of this nature.