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GeneralLiberia news

Senator seeks US$3m to combat fire outbreaks

Senator Saah Joseph is one of few top Liberian officials who have survived fire tragedies that have destroyed homes and, in some cases, killed other victims across the country.

By Ethel A. Tweh 

Monrovia, April 24, 2024: Through the Liberian Senate, Montserrado County Senator Saah Joseph is seeking the Legislature’s approval for an emergency budgetary allotment of US$3m to combat fire outbreaks. 

In justifying his request, Mr. Joseph explained that the money, when approved, will be used to purchase 17 fire trucks for the 17 electoral districts in Montserrado County. 

“Our ordinary citizens are the victims of fire every day, and some of them cannot even afford [one] meal per day, but their homes and properties get damaged, and also, some of them lost their lives that we don’t hear about,” he said.

Recently, Mr. Joseph, with the help of some community people, narrowly survived a raging fire incident that destroyed his house.

After that, House Speaker Fonati Koffa also became another senior official whose fire destroyed property.

In all these incidents, the Liberia National Fire Service did not appear prepared to respond and save the victims from the losses they incurred.

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This state agency, charged with dealing with fire incidents, continues to be one of the poorly funded and ill-equipped state institutions to date.

Mr. Joseph believes that the Liberia Fire Service’s strength in fighting fire disasters within Montserado County must be augmented.

He recalled that in recent months, Montserado County has been engulfed by a series of devastating fire outbreaks, resulting in the significant loss of lives and properties.

As custodians of public welfare and governance, he suggested that the Legislature address these incidents.

The lawmaker noted that there is fire every day in the country, and as leaders, they need to step in now before the worst happens. 

If all the districts have their fire trucks, Senator Joseph believes they can fight fire collectively.

He noted that if one fire truck runs out of water, another fire truck from the next district can be a help.

He detailed that first, it was the citizens [often victimized by fire outbreaks]; secondly, he, and now the Speaker, was next.

Having outlined these incidents, Joseph stated that nobody knows who is next when it comes to a fire disaster.

According to him, the discussion is not just leaving at the level of the Senate. Still, he will also write to the President of Liberia to meet him, have discussions, and tell him about the need for money to fight the continuous fire disaster in Montserrado.

After they have sorted out the fire trucks, he said they will advocate for the opening of the roads so that the trucks can have access when they enter. 

He said some houses do not have roads for cars to access, adding, “We will need to open the alley so that when the truck [comes, it] can have access.”

“If I [had died] in that fire, it was going to take almost US$1 million to have my burial, repast, and other things. So $3m for a whole county with the highest population is nothing to fight fire,” he argued.

“We spent $30 million on food here for COVID-19, and some homes still haven’t received theirs,” he continued.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Liberian Senate has seized the matter to advise Plenary on Thursday.

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  1. Senator Saar Joseph your comment requesting for 3 million to purchase 17 fire trucks for the 17 electoral districts of Montserrado is unfounded, contradicting, senseless, limited, and does not represent the interest of the Liberian people. Look at your own contradiction Senator Joseph, you are acknowledging that fire disaster is all over the country and you are calling on government to purchase seventeen fire trucks just for a county which is Montserrado county so, where will the fourteen counties safety lie on fire incident? Your statement is rubbish intended to undermine government effort in fighting fire disaster in the country. You are a senator and one of the fire victims, so please lobby for fire trucks from some of your good friends that assisted you with those buses and medical materials that you brought during your corrupt cdc regime.

  2. There has to be transparency n accountability in the fire service unit, to establish the main causes of these fires, what they lack, continuation of training on regular duty, water pipes/sandpit deposited in every street, and an improvement in the way the response teams interact. Once this are established, this will breakdown an actual amount needed to execute these plans to rectify the problems at hand. 3 million is a lot of money, but may it be enough, so as to right the wrong of the fire service department?
    A round table of serious discussions must be in order. Public works, Telecommunications, Water & Sewer, experts in firefighting, gasoline management team, LEC, Environmental Protection, Health n Safety, etc., are all bodies that must be included in discussions on such an intense task. Perhaps committees n subcommittees need to address they input n give a clearer understanding of how government can assist in ones and for all, tactics to eradicate unnecessary fires. So while our devoted senator is keen to solve the problem, it isn’t as easy as explained above. Let this country move forward by learning to communicate adequately with the essential team.

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