Anambra’s No 1 Fire Fighter

By Uche Amunike

I had been planning paying a visit to my dear friend, the Hon Commissioner for Information and Enlightenment, C Don Adinuba, for a while now. So, on this chilly Tuesday, I decided to pay him that long expected visit. When I got to his office, we talked about everything that had to do with work, the state, the recent ban on Okada, its long term effects/rewards, family, life generally and his love for the state as well as his deep need to rebrand our dear state in his capacity as the Chief Image Maker of the state. It was a very good outing and I spent quality time chilling with him. Well, as the clock ticked and I got some calls from work, I had to request to take my leave. C Don however insisted I stayed so I would meet with the officials of the State Fire Service who were on their way to his office for a courtesy visit. I declined and insisted I really had to run but if you know this amazing gentleman pretty good, you will understand how gracious he is as a host to all that come his way. So, I had to stay back and after a while, they arrived his office and I heard one of the most interesting stories I ever covered.
That story has a hero and his name is Engr Agbili Martin, popularly known as Agility. He is the Director/Fire Chief of the Anambra State Fire Service. He is also the PRO/Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and as well, the National Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers. I’ll tell you his story. It is a story that teaches dedication to duty, commitment, selfless service and importantly, gratitude and appreciation.
Engr Martin Agbili got the message that there was a fire outbreak somewhere in the state. He got together his team of officers, got his equipment ready and they headed to the scene. When they got there, he led the team and they fought the fire headlong with him, leading the team. As God would have it, they were able to quench the fire, but he was badly burnt. Unknown to him, however, someone was busy doing a video recording of that exercise and his heroic act while it lasted. Somehow, the video was able to reach the Honourable Commissioner for Information, C Don Adinuba who was so touched by the Fire Boss’ bravery and took time out to search for him and paid him a visit at the hospital. He didn’t stop there. He went further to take the video clip to His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano. The essence was to bring to the notice of the governor, the manner in which the gallant officer carried out his duty even at the risk of losing his limb or life. The essence was to encourage other workers and civil servants in the state to do well to be dedicated in their duties at every level. The message is also to learn to do things not because people are watching, but because it is the proper thing to do. When he went into the inferno to douse the fire, all he had in mind was to save lives and property, but God was faithful and not only were lives and property saved, the officer was also saved in spite of his burns. The warm hearted governor of our state, Willie Obiano has instructed that the noble Fire Service Director be informed that he would visit him and reward him accordingly as soon as he returned from his trip overseas. That is definitely going to be a good one, I know. Well deserving too. Kudos to Engr Agbili for selflessness. Let me also commend my dear friend, C Don who went the extra mile to ensure that honour was given to whom it was due. He could have acted like he didn’t see the video clip. He could have just remained in his office and acted like it wasn’t a big deal but he didn’t. He ensured that the governor’s attention was caught. Thank u so much for this act of nobility, Sir.
Anyway, I am glad to have witnessed the courtesy visit by Engr Agbili and his team to the office of the Honourable commissioner and I bring you the following tit bits…
What’s the reason behind this courtesy call, Sir?
The essence of this Courtesy call is to familiarize ourselves with the ministry. This is the Anambra State Fire Service. We are under the Ministry of Public Utilities of Anambra State and this is the first Ministry I am visiting since I assumed office. I decided to do that because this is the powerhouse. This is where everything will start. This is where, at the end of the day, the public will know that this office is still existing. But we find it difficult to believe what people will always say like when they ask if the fire service is still in existence and even functional. We believe that this is the ministry that will assist us in informing the general public that this noble organization is still working and very much functional. Our main reason for this visit is to see how we can form a synergy with the Ministry of Information so we can find a means to come and sensitize the civil servants here about safety as it concerns fire safety management. Most times, when we go to fight fire when there is an outbreak, what we do need is back up. That back up is the media and that is the information we are talking about. When you get to the point of a fire scene, people will report that there were commissioners present, PPRO, Civil Defence, etc, but they never mention those people that are fighting the fire. You will never hear fire service. The only thing you will hear about fire service is that probably, they didn’t come in time or that they came late, or maybe they fought the fire later. So, we believe so much that it’s not enough for us. When I assumed office in Decembver 2017, I told myself that my theme for the length of time I am going to stay in that office will be, ‘Promoting the Image of the Fire Service through Proper Service Delivery’. I have tried as much as I can with the assistance of my team to uphold that theme. We thank God that in December which is a common time for fire incidents, we attended to all the outbreaks that happened in the state. The only thing that can hinder us from attending to fire outbreaks is if we do not get the information early
Sir, what is it like, being appreciated for selfless service? Again, is this the first time you’re being singled out for a job exceptionally done well?
No. I’ve come a long way. I remember the time I had to go inside a twenty feet pit toilet to rescue a baby and I suceeded. That was July 3rd, 2000. Within that period, a lot was done. I remember the state government then promised to appreciate me but at the end of the day, nothing happened. However, this is a selfless and humanitarian service. I don’t always look out for anything. What I know I can do, I will do that because we are serving the public. Fire service is humanitarian by nature. So, this is not the first time I’m doing something exceptional, but it is the first time I’m being appreciated by the State Government for doing something that is extraordinary.
Okay, so what was on your mind when you were going into that fire?
Nothing. I just took it that I was going there to save the lives and property of the people because if I had not, a lot would have happened and a lot of properties would have been destroyed in that inferno. Within that time, I am a fire fighter. In as much as I am the Fire Chief or the Director of the Anambra State Fire Service, it doesn’t stop me from going to fight fire which I know that in Anambra State, nobody who is a Director or a Fire Chief will go to fight fire. It’s not done anywhere, but I just enjoy doing such things.
What is the first thing eye witnesses should do when they see themselves in a situation of a fire outbreak?
You raise alarm. You alert the public. Tell people that there is fire and then, you start calling fire service. Once you call the Fire Service, because time is of the essence, then we move in. The earlier we move, the better chances we have to fight the fire. I always tell people, always call fire service on time.
React to this idea of people using detergent and water to quench a fire. Is that advisable? Does it truly work? Should it be encouraged?
No. it’s not advisable because we have classes of fire. In class A fire, you can use ordinary water. But in classes B and C, you cannot because we are talking about flammable liquids. If you use it, it does no good.
Thank you very much, Sir
You’re welcome
For the records, he made it known that Anambra State has nine functional Fire Stations in the state. They are at the Secretariat, the Government House, Amawbia, Nnewi, Ekwulobia, Okpoko, Main Market, Nkpor and at the Building Materials part of Ogidi. The state has also been able to boast of five new ones newly completed and about to kick off as soon as the fencing and landscaping are completed. These ones are at Umunze, Agulu, Ihiala, Nnewi and Otuocha. Anambra state has become bigger and can only get even better by the hour. Engr Agbili is just one person. What about you and I? We can do even better from our little corners. Let’s make it an apostolate to make this state better than the rest of the pack. Are you game? I definitely am. Love you all!!!