Ozor Gab Onuzulike, ex-Enugu State commissioner for rural development who was killed by hoodlums last Friday, played a key role in the rejuvination of the Enugu State Fire Service, which is today among the best in the country.
Ahead of this year’s International Firefighters’ Day held in Enugu in May, Ozor Onuzulike, then out of the government and managing his sprawling private school in the heart of the metropolis, granted an interview on how he met the fire agency, and how he enabled the realisation of the goals of Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in making the moribund agency what it is today.
According to him, “I was appointed commissioner in 2015. The state Fire Service was under the supervision of the Ministry of Rural Development. When we came in, I instituted a committee to look into the operations of the service. Within three weeks, the committee came up with a report. The idea was to reposition the state Fire Service.
“Before then, it was nothing to write home about. It had only one functional fire vehicle for the entire state. The staffing and the operational guides weren’t something to fight fire in the 21 Century. We had a blueprint, which I took to His Excellency. He vetted the document and gave his support. If not for his support, the state Fire Service wouldn’t have been what it is today.”
According to him, up until 2015, no graduate ever headed the state Fire Service. “We then considered the staffing and came up that somebody to head it must have the knowledge of the ICT and be a graduate,” he said, adding that, “We were able to put in the right people in the right place. When you look around, they are not only in fire protection, they also offer fire control, and even fire training.
“That was how we got the current state Chief Fire officer. He is an engineer and certified by COREN. Secondly, he is vast in ICT. That helped a lot in putting technology into the operations of the agency.”
He suggested ways to sustain the success of the agency. In his words, “Funding is one area that is not enough considering the geo-political situation of Enugu State. Enugu State is large, about 480 autonomous communities. The good thing is that His Excellency, when he came on board, built additional fire service stations across the state. The sector also acquired new fire trucks.
“But there is the need to extend these services to rural areas, so that when something is happening at Point A, there will be a fire truck to tackle it. There are other critical areas that should be taken care of. In some markets with congestions, urban planning authorities should create access roads so that fire fighters can access those areas in times of emergencies.
“Another area is water, and I thank God Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who is addressing those issues.”
He also wished the continuum of the current tempo of the state fire sector after Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s government.
Echoing him, “Fire service in Enugu State has clearly departed from the olden days where nothing works. It will be sad that anybody that comes would fail to consolidate on what Gov Ugwuanyi has done. Gov Ugwuanyi has set a standard of how a typical fire service should look like and should be emulated.”
Despite not being in government when he granted the interview, Ozor Onuzulike was fulfilled. He said, “As a person, His Excellency gave us the enablement to work. One can have a good framework of what to do, but if your boss does not provide the enablement, nothing would have been done.
“Gov Ugwuanyi gave us the desired support at all times. That is why everybody is proud of Enugu State Fire Service today.”
Credit: Firesafety Magazine