Ghana National Fire Service
In the pre-colonial era, before the existence of the Fire Service, fires were controlled by Traditional rulers, using the Asafo Companies (Traditional Soldiers) to fight all kinds of fires in their communities and localities.
It was not until 1955 before the colonial government found the need to reorganize the various Asafo Companies into vibrant groups to tackle both domestic and bushfires as there were only a few industries.
With the restructuring of the political administration of the Gold Coast into the Local Government concept, a lot of the members of the Asafo Companies opted to become employees of the Local Government Institutions in the Country. In time the responsibility of firefighting became a duty of the Police Force.
As towns developed into municipalities, municipal councils, as well as some Government agencies with fire hazards formed their own fire brigades.
The idea of a National Fire Service was conceived in 1955 when the colonial Government invited Mr. S. M. Charters (ORE) of her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Fire Service into the country and to among other things, advise on the organization and establishment of Fire Service in Municipalities and in certain urban towns.
In 1962, the Government of Ghana employed the services of a Fire Advisory Expert, Mr. G. S. Leader, under the United Kingdom-Ghana Technical Assistance Programme to help formulate a policy on the formation of a National Fire Service which had long been contemplated.
In 1963 by an Act of Parliament (Fire Service Act 1963; Act 219) the Ghana National Fire Service was born from the then fragmented Railways, Ports and Harbours, Accra City, Kumasi City, and the Sekondi/Takoradi Municipal Fire Brigades. These brigades had hitherto existed as separate entities under government departments or municipal councils.
The primary aim of the Ghana National Fire Service at its established in 1963 by Act 219 was firefighting and extinguishment, and to render humanitarian services.
Subsequently, in 1997 the Ghana National Fire Service Act (Act 537) was enacted to re-establish the Ghana National Fire Service with the objective of prevention and management of undesired fires and other related matters with an expanded mandate.
The purpose of Act 537 was to expand the functions of the GNFS taking into cognisance modern trends in the Fire Services all over the world; from fire intervention to fire prevention and safety.
VISION OF Ghana National Fire Service
To prevent and manage undesired fires, thereby reducing loss of lives and properties by enforcement of Fire Safety measures in national strategic installations and responding promptly to fire disasters.
The Ghana National Fire Service is committed to providing an efficient and valued fire and rescue service to meet statutory required in Act 537 and public expectation.
This will be achieved through appropriate resourcing in terms of equipment, appliances, and premises and by effectively training personnel.
We are confident that we can maintain and improve public safety from fire and other emergencies, thereby protecting the people, industry, crops and the vegetation.
FUNCTIONS OF Ghana National Fire Service
The functions of the Service are as follows:
a. Organise public fire education programmes:-
i. To create and sustain awareness of the hazards of fire.
ii. To heighten the role of the individual in the prevention of fire; and
b. Provide technical advice for building plans with regard to machinery and structural layouts to facilitate escape from fire, rescue operations, and fire management;
c. Inspect and offer technical advice on fire extinguisher;
d. Co-ordinate and advise on training of personnel in firefighting departments of other institutions in the country;
e. Train and organize Fire Volunteer Squads at the community level;
f. Offer rescue and evacuation services to those trapped by fire, or in other emergencies; and
g. Undertake any other function incidental to the objectives of the Service.
STRUCTURE OF THE Ghana National Fire Service
The Service runs a centralised administration with a National Headquarters in Accra and eleven Service Administrative Regions in all the political regions of Ghana. Tema Region makes up the eleventh region. Each Fire Service Region has District Fire Stations as well as Fire Posts.
The Service also has a Training Institution, the Fire Academy and Training School (FATS), based in Accra.
In order to ensure effective and efficient management of the GNFS activities, the following Directorates have been created as required by Act 537:
Finance and Administration
Human Resource and Training
Research, Development and Monitoring
Other Directorates may be created as stated in Act 537 to ensure efficiency of operations.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Fire Service is the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) who is supported by eight (8) key Directors, mostly of the rank of Deputy Chief Fire Officers (DCFO). The Director of Operations is however, the second in command in the hierarchy.
Directors are Regional Fire Officers (RFO’s) who are of the rank of Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO).
District Fire Officers (DFO) represents the next line of authority. They are usually of the rank of Divisional Officer Grade One or Two and in some instances Divisional Officer Grade Three (DOI/DOII/DOIII).
At the bottom of the hierarchy of authority are Officers-in-Charge of Fire Post, Watches or Sections at the various Stations.