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Boakai urges corrective measures against fire outbreaks

Liberia’s National Fire Service appears to be largely incapacitated in responding to fire outbreaks, and the incident at Speaker Koffa’s residence and other recent cases could point to the realities.

By Emmanuel wise Jipoh 

Monrovia, April 16, 2024: President Joseph Nyumah Boakai has called for corrective measures to tackle the rising fire disasters nationwide, barely a day after House Speaker Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa’s house was destroyed.

While visiting Speaker Koffa on Monday, 15 April 2024, at his Rehab Community residence in Paynesville, Mr. Boakai pledged his government’s commitment to implement collective measures to tackle recurring fire outbreaks in the country. 

His visit was to empathize with the Speaker and his family following the Sunday fire disaster that shocked the country.

President Boakai expressed regret about the rooming fire incident across the country and stated that his government attached serious importance to the fire outbreaks across the country.

He assured that the government will enhance corrective measures to tackle the fire outbreaks.

There was no casualty reported from the fire incident at Speaker Koffa’s residence.

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There is no official account of the cause of the fire outbreak, but some members of the public are speculating that it might have been caused by an electrical fault, among other things.

Liberia’s National Fire Service appears to be largely incapacitated in responding to fire outbreaks, and the incident at Speaker Koffa’s residence and other recent cases could point to the realities.

Mrs. Dama Reter Yekeson-Koffa, wife of Speaker Koffa, has described the fire incident at their residence as devastating.

But she appreciated God because there wasn’t a life lost. At the same time, Mrs. Yekeson-Koffa pointed out that there are unproductive firefighters and rescuers due to the lack of a systematic approach to dealing with fire situations here.

“We need to build systems in this country across all sectors. The Fire Service Department is one of those departments,” said Mrs. Yekeson-Koffa.

“I think we don’t take [it] seriously in this country, and we need to take [it] very seriously because it is having devastating results and must be taken with urgency,” said Mrs. Yekeson-Koffa.

She lamented the inability to immediately tackle fire disasters here due to a lack of resourceful equipment, among other things.

“They [were] here, and there was nothing really much done after 45 minutes upon their arrival, but we couldn’t appreciate anything really being done as the blazing increased,” she narrated.

“We were left devastated, and I think the fire service was really unproductive and worthless. You can not have a service like this here,” Madam Yekeson-Koffa intoned.

She suggested that Liberia will continue to endure such a catastrophe until a system is built across every sector.

“Liberia must build its system to rely on, and in the instance where there is a fire, everyone will understand … what needs to be done,” she argued.

Speaking further, Madam Koffa told reporters that the fire may have erupted in the theatre of her home, and the Liberia National Fire Service had no answer to the tragedy.

“We were in our room getting prepared to retire for the evening, and I had gone downstairs getting some food to eat. In the midst of that, one of our guys came alerting us [that] there was a fire in the theatre,” Mrs. Yekeson-Koffa explained.

She said there was so much smoke everywhere that they couldn’t see anything. She added that there was uncertainty about where that fire was.

For his part, House Speaker Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa thanked President Boakai for visiting and consoling his family. 

Speaker Koffa also thanked his colleagues including neighbour’s and others for their support. 

He told reporters that most of the documents at his residence were safely kept and that they had not been damaged.

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