The facility, situated at the closed Eastern Gate of Parliament in Osu, Accra, has the complement of fully trained fire personnel, a dedicated fire tender and a host of ancillary gears and apparatus for fire fighting and prevention.
Hitherto, the fire fighters stationed in Parliament were accommodated in makeshift cubicles, with their gear strewn on the corridors of the second floor of the Chamber Block.
The inauguration adds to recent measures to heighten security in the State House Complex, after the opening of the Tower Block (Job 600) in November 2015, and a programme to beef up security including fire, in the wake of new security challenges.
Earlier in the year, a police station was opened at the Western Gate of the State House and some of the entrances were blocked, with enhanced physical and discreet security measures to reduce or prevent intrusion.
Mr Ebo Barton-Odro, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, who inaugurated the facility on behalf of his boss, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, said insecurity and dangers posed by fire outbreak was as disastrous as the danger posed by democratic assailants across the world.
With a reference to Parliament as ‘a national monument’, which served as a very important information repository on national affairs, the Speaker gave the assurance that fire prevention remained a topmost priority for the Leadership of Parliament in ensuring that the institution was always protected from fire disasters.
“With the occupation of Job 600 Office Complex by Honourable Members last year, our attention has been drawn to the new dimensions of fire safety management associated within the architecture e of Parliament, requiring modern approaches to fire safety management,” he said.
“The establishment of this Ghana National Fire Service Station is, therefore, to ensure that Parliament is safer, less exposed to fire related destruction and devastation and to improve the response time in case of emergency,” Mr Barton-Odro said.
The First Deputy Speaker, however, pointed out that the presence of the station did not automatically guarantee fire safety and called on the people’s representatives to make fire prevention and safety a shared responsibility with the fire personnel.
“I encourage Honourable Members, support staff and visitors to stay alert and responsible to the dangers of fire within the Parliamentary precincts,” he said. “We must take responsibility in the protection of our national heritage and in particular one another.”
Mr Barton-Odro urged the Clerk to Parliament and the Fire Officer in-charge of the Station to collaborate to sensitise Legislators, Parliamentary Staff and visitors on fire safety and prevention.
While commending the personnel of the Parliament Fire Unit for their commitment over the years in ensuring the safety of Parliament, Mr Barton-Odro assured the Unit of the support of the Parliamentary Service Board in its operations, promising enough budgetary provision to implement all security enhancement policies being put in place in the House.
Mr James Agalga, a Deputy Minister of the Interior, said there had been an increase in human activities and infrastructure development in the precincts of the Parliament with corresponding increase in risk hazards; “hence the need to provide fire and rescue services within a reasonable distance to curtail emergencies that may arise.”
He used the opportunity to plead with Legislators to give adequate attention on fire safety and prevention issues when they took the Floor.
Mr Emmanuel Anyimadu, the Clerk to Parliament, said recent attacks on democratic institutions in the world, and in particular the West Africa sub-region, dictated that Parliament found innovative ways of enhancing security and the safety of Members of Parliament without reducing public access to the precincts of Parliament and its members.
Dr Albert Brown Gaisie, the National Chief Fire Officer, noted that undesired fires were still a threat to lives and properties and called on all Ghanaians to play active roles in fire prevention and management.
He reminded the lawmakers to include in their campaign messages the need to be fire-wary, especially those related to domestic and bush burning, assuring the nation that the doors of the Service was opened to all.
The First Deputy Speaker later cut the tape to inaugurate the station building.
Some members of the Leadership present at the inauguration were Mr Joe Ghartey, Second Deputy Speaker, Mr Alfred Agbesi, Deputy Majority Leader, Alhaji Mohammad Muntaka Mubarak, Majority Chief Whip, Hajia Mary Salifu Boforo, First Deputy Majority Whip, Mr Ahmed Ibrahim, Second Deputy Majority Whip, Mr Ignatius Bafour Awuah, Second Deputy Minority Whip and Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo, Minister for the Greater Accra Region and MP for Kpone/Katamanso.
The Voices of Democracy, the resident choir of Parliament, livened the occasion with choral music and melodious harmonies, which got numerous invitees dancing.