Video: How ‘under-resourced’ fire crews prevented near explosion at Ghana Gas pipeline with palm fronds

One of the firefighters battle the blaze with the palm fronds

Firefighters were deployed to battle a bushfire around the Ghana Gas Pipeline at Essiama in the Ellembelle District of the Western Region.

The crew averted what may have been a deadly disaster that could have hit the country months after a blast flattened the community of Appiatse, killing at least 18 people.

Blow-by-blow account

The Ghana National Fire Service in its regular updates on its social media handles confirmed that a distress call was placed to their outfit at about 15:15 hrs on Saturday, December 31, 2022, indicating a bushfire around the Ghana Gas Pipeline.

“The brisk and gallant Firefighters led by ADO II Nyamekye Borsah were dispatched at 15:16 hours and arrived at the scene at 15:20 hours to battle the bushfire which had affected the grassland around the Gas Pipeline Distribution Station”.

Initial investigations

The fire near the Ghana Gas installation was brought under control at 15:59 hours and was finally extinguished at 16:06 hours with no casualties recorded, the fire service post said.

“Initial investigation suggested that the fire was caused by unattended naked fire by game hunters and poachers after their hunting expedition in the enclave”.

“Tactical firefighting approach with palm fronds”

In what has been described as a “tactical approach” the firefighters were spotted using palm fronds to battle the blaze, exposing them to several threats.

In a 28-second video, some of the crew completely ignored safety precautions as they were seen without protective gear. The footage also saw them busily chasing the blaze which got closer to the state installation.

Ticking timebomb?

In 2019, the Ghana National Fire Service indicated that at least 61 of their officers died whilst discharging their duties.

Many of them sustained various degrees of injury, recounted a chief fire officer at the time Edwin Ekow Blankson during World Firefighters Day which occurs on May 4.

To corroborate this report one of the officers who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “There is disquiet in the Service now. Whenever there is a distress call you just pray to God to bring you back safely.

“The Ghana Gas installation there is sitting on a timebomb. Any fire outbreak could be disastrous”, another said while calling on the government to retool the Ghana National Fire Service to effectively discharge their duties.

New facilities, operational vehicles commissioned for Ghana Fire Service

But it appears the government is working hard to stem the tide.

On Friday 23 December 2022, the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, commissioned infrastructure projects and operational vehicles for the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and the Fire Academy and Training School respectively, in Accra.

He commissioned two two-storey dormitory blocks, two-storey classroom blocks and a dining hall for the Fire Academy and Training School.

The Vice President also commissioned two hydraulic platforms and a Rapid Intervention Vehicle (RIV) for the Operational use of the Ghana National Fire Service.

Speaking at the event, Dr Bawumia noted that the facilities, fully funded by the government, form part of plans by the government to resource and help the Ghana National Fire Service to deliver on its mandate more effectively, as well as equip the Fire Academy and Training School to be among the best on the African continent.

“In the coming years, the government intends to make the Fire Academy and Training School Africa’s best by providing training facilities such as simulators which comprise of firefighting simulators and urban search and rescue simulators to help keep firefighters abreast with modern firefighting and rescue skills,” Dr Bawumia was quoted by the Daily Graphic as saying.

“Government is also considering the acquisition of fire fighting and rescue helicopters as a long-term solution to some of the delivery challenges of Ghana National Fire Service”, he added.


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