Firefighters at Mboro

On Tuesday 10 April 2018, in the conference room of the company’s headquarters, Mr Patrice MELOM, Managing Director of the Port Authority of Kribi (PAK), presided over the ceremony of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Port Authority of Kribi (PAK) and the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), on the provision of a fire and rescue unit of the National Fire Brigade in the Mboro operations area. The ceremony was held at 10.00 a.m. under the auspices of the Senior Divisional Officer of Kribi.

For the Ministry of Defence, the convention thus signed aims to provide the PAK with roughly eighteen (18) staff of the National Fire Brigade, assigned in the port of Mboro as follows:

  • Three (3) senior non-commissioned officers
  • Three (3) junior non-commissioned officers
  • Seven (7) officers
  • Five (5) soldiers

From the onset, their mission is broken down as follows:

  • Provide fire and emergency guard for PAK facilities
  • Ensure the proper use and maintenance of premises, material and equipment provided by the PAK
  • Have the fire unit staff respect the PAK’s instructions and regulations

In this regard, the Port Authority of Kribi is accountable for a series of obligations ensuring the reliability and continuity of this extension of the public service, in the sensitive area of the Port of Kribi.

Excellent news for the Port of Kribi which has at last a fire unit established in its specific area of operations. A long wait resulting this 10 April 2018 in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Port Authority of Kribi (PAK) and the Ministry of Defence, lead body of the National Fire Brigade in Cameroon. According to Brigadier General Mahamat Ahmed, Commander of the National fire Brigade of Cameroon, in line with its traditional missions, the unit will focus on the following areas of action: fighting fires and the aftermath of any calamity, rescuing people and protecting property in the port area, taking part in managing disasters occurring at sea or in the port operations area.

In addition, the National Fire Brigade can be considered as the major structure in charge of emergency cases – daily life accidents or major disasters occurring inside or outside ships – on the total exclusive area of the Port of Kribi, that is, 26,000 ha. A domain in which the Fire Brigade has been used for long, as was witnessed during the tragic train crash of Eseka, in the Centre region, in October 2016. As a matter of fact, on the ground, firefighters evacuated remains, took care of the wounded, reassured people in shock, contributed to securing and cleaning the accident site, etc. A tedious work whose value is yet to be acknowledged by all and sundry. Yet, fire-fighters are close to the people, be it for fire accidents or domestic damage. Their emergency number, 118, is among the most requested service numbers.

The public, not always grateful, often enjoys blaming firefighters who are said to be “late” on accidents sites. However, as Brigadier General Mahamat Ahmed underscores, the public should know that firefighters are not the only link of the long rescue chain. Their actions depend, inter alia, on telephone lines for the reception of emergency calls. Very often, phone calls ring unheeded. Though operators have been called to order several times in this regard, firefighters do not always succeed in restoring lines the way they should. To add insult to injury, the state of roads does not always ensure easy access to accident sites. Finally, there is also the lack of civic spirit in some citizens on the public way as they are reluctant to give way to emergency vehicles. Nevertheless, despite these various hurdles, firefighters perform their duty at the risk of their life. Very often, their only reward is the gratefulness of the people they helped and the pride of having prevented an accident.