Fire gutted the Ministry of Health (MoH) headquarters building in Accra on Saturday, completely destroying the room hosting the Information Communication Technology (ICT) server room and one other office.
Within minutes personnel from the Ministries’ Fire Department got to the scene and extinguished the fire which began at about 4:30 a.m. after a security man on guard duty rushed to the station to report the fire outbreak.
The Ministries’ Divisional Commander of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), Divisional Officer (DO II), Naomi Ofori-Adubea, who confirmed this incident to the Ghanaian Times said the quick response of the fire fighters had saved the entire MoH headquarters from being ravaged.
She said the security guard tried opening the door when he detected smoke from the server room, but because all doors to the ministry had been electronically looked and could only be opened with biometric finger prints, he could not.
“Having realised that he could not open the doors to the building, he then rushed over to inform the station”, DOII Ofori-Adubea said.
The six-member fire team led by Station officer Daniel Lartey and DO II, Fireman-charge, Gideon Amankwah, immediately broke the doors to have access to the building and brought the fire under control.
DO II Ofori-Adubea said upon hearing of the fire outbreak on their service handset, she quickly rushed from her residence at Nungua to the ministries to supervise her men who were already in action and successfully brought the situation under control before she got there.
The Ministries’ Divisional Fire Commander could not readily disclose the cause of the fire, saying it was too early as investigations were ongoing.
She, however, expressed concern about the use of the electronic system to lock doors to the offices and the ministries after work, since that could impede access to the offices in the event of fire outbreaks or emergency situations as it occurred last Saturday.
“If there is no staff with biometric finger print around especially during the night where everyone had gone home the story would be different,” she stated.
Rather, what D0II Ofori-Adubea advised that the ministry should adopt a system where they would leave the keys with the security man over night and resort to the use of CCT cameras to monitor night activities to record any crime.
She assured that the GNFS would intensify safety education of the Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) in her operational areas and beyond to prevent fire outbreaks.
The Ministries’ Divisional Fire Officer urged the public to call the Fire Service emergency line of 192, in case of fire outbreak, and not resort to putting off fire by themselves or calling radio stations.
By Norman Cooper