Ghana — Fire Volunteer Squad has been inaugurated at Matse-Dzokpe to protect the vast low-lying forested lands in the belly of mountain ranges north of Ho, often engulfed by bushfires in the dry season. Communities in the area include Matse-Ando, Matse-Dzokpe and Matse-Bethany.
Mr Kingsley Kavi, the Head-Teacher of Matse-Dzokpe Community Primary School, told the Ghana News Agency that the problem of bushfires in the area had proved intractable over the years. He said the scenario during the dry seasons was for people to clandestinely torch the bushes for game resulting in expansive fires crackling through the area. Mr Bernard Tseyi, a past Headteacher of the same school, said a bush fire once razed the then thatch-roofed school building to ashes. He said the fires represented a major obstacle to food crops cultivation in the area and that it was “gratifying that members of the community agreed to police themselves”. Mr Tseyi said vast fields of cassava, rice, sugarcane and maize had been lost to the fires in many instances. The squad was formed under the auspices of Prevent Indiscriminate Fire Burning (PRINFERB) a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) whose Public Relations Officer, Ms Gifty Afi Adonu, said the fight against fire disasters must begin with education on prevention. Mr Kwabena Taah Korang, Divisional Officer Grade One, Deputy Volta Regional Commander of the Fire Service, said fire prevention was the responsibility of everybody.
Mr Isaac Kodobisah, the Ho Municipal Chief Executive, said the education must target hunters and palm wine tapers. He called for the replanting of cocoa and coffee farms destroyed by fires as these products remained profitable cash crops. The National Command of the Ghana National Fire Service presented 45 pairs of boots, T-Shirts and caps to the volunteers. Mr Gallen Amenyo, Leading Fireman, took the volunteers through the two week drill and fire fighting skills. Mabel Dekuku, 13, a Junior High School pupil, is the youngest among the squad while Michael Ashigbi, 61, is the oldest. The Volunteers exhibited their marching skills and undertook a mock battling of a bushfire at the function, which also marked the formal inauguration of PRINFERB.