The Lagos State Assembly has proposed a two-year imprisonment for any individual found to have obstructed fire fighting operations, assaulted firefighters and resisted fire service employees during an emergency exercise across the state.
The House also submitted that the fine for a corporate body found to have obstructed and denied the firefighters access to prevent fire from escalating as well as protect individuals and corporate property from damage should be made to pay a N5 million fine.
The lawmakers made the recommendation in a bill entitled: “A Bill for a Law to Establish the Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service and for Connected Purposes” which was aimed at giving legal backing to emergency services rendered by the firefighters across Lagos.
According to the lawmakers, the bill was also put together with the aim of preventing fire or fire-related emergencies within the state.
Leading the debate on the bill recently during a public hearing by the assembly, the Chairman, House Committee on Special Duties, Raheem Kazeem, said failure to yield right of way to engines or other mobile fire-fighting equipment as required by the law was an offence and, on conviction, the accused shall be liable to a fine not exceeding N100,000 or a prison term not exceeding six months or both.
He noted that the bill also provided for prohibition and control of use of materials classified as hazard in the erection, alteration, improvement or repair of any building or other structures.
According to Kazeem, the bill also included provisions for risk assessment and fire investigation in public and private places deemed to be potential threats to human lives and property.
The lawmaker, who currently represent Ibeju-Lekki II, said that the bill would empower the state fire service officials to investigate and respond to complaints from members of the public on matters that could lead to outbreak of fire or other related emergencies in the state.
While noting that the Lagos State fire service would charge fees annually for service rendered other than extinguishing fires, the chairman stressed that the rate would be restricted to the prescribed fee under the schedules of the law.
Kazeem, who hinted that the rate should be reviewed periodically, said: “Any prescribed charge under this may be sued for and recovered in a court of competent jurisdiction in the state by the state fire controller in his official name with full costs of action from the person charged as a debtor to the state.
“A charge shall not be made for any service rendered by the service in extinguishing fires and for rescue operations. It also provides that all buildings must have fire safety equipment such as conventional fire extinguisher, smoke detectors, central fire alarm systems and, at least, two staircases for storey buildings.
“Buildings that are two storey or more are to have hose reel equipment and an automatic fire detection and suppression system (Fire Master 200/Pyrogen etc).The service is empowered to cause authorised officers to carry out inspection of any building in the state and the service shall charge fees for inspection of such buildings,” he added.
Kazeem said that fire fighting equipment dealers would be expected to apply for registration with the state fire service for issuance of certificate of registration. He said that the certificate should be renewed yearly on payment of a prescribed fee.
The lawmaker noted that every private organisation or company in the state would be required to apply for registration with the state fire service for establishment of a private fire department or unit. In his contribution, a former Head of Lagos State Fire Service, Aderemi Ajose, said that the fire service should be under Lagos State Ministry of Special duties.