A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the University of Cape Coast and the Ghana Fire Service (GNFS) to train personnel of the Service in Forensic Fire Investigation.
Tracing the background to the collaboration, the Head of the Department of Forensic Sciences, Dr. Richmond Afoakwah, said it was borne out of the desire of GNFS, led by the Chief Fire Officer, Mr. Edwin Ekow Blankson, to enhance their work through forensic investigation. He noted that the Department engaged top officers of the Service to design the courses for the training programme and was hopeful that the collaboration would assist the Service to build the capacity of its personnel to conduct professional investigations into fire outbreaks in the country.
Department of Forensic Sciences is Competent
Giving his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, was happy to note that most of the top officials within the service were products of UCC. He stated that the Department of Forensic Sciences was an approved and accredited department that has the requisite expertise, knowledge, and resources to train and conduct research in areas of forensic and allied sciences. “As a Department, our focus is to train both students and people in the field of forensic and Allied Sciences”, he said.
Prof. Ampiah noted that the Department has had other MoUs with some security agencies stressing that “We are spreading ourselves to be very relevant to the Ghanaian situation”. He stated that the University had a strong collaboration with Gujarat Forensic Sciences University in India, which is solely into Forensic Science training. He, therefore, assured that the Department would extend the benefits of that collaboration to the GNFS. “Whiles we do that, we are also happy to note that our students will be able to join you to gain some expertise which will help enrich the training they are receiving from UCC” he noted.
The Vice-Chancellor indicated that the MoU had set the pace for a long-lasting relationship between UCC and GNFS.
UCC and GNFS Collaboration is First of its Kind
On his part, the Chief Fire Officer of GNFS, Mr. Edwin Ekow Blankson, stated that the collaboration was the first of its kind in the history of the Service. According to him since his enlistment in 1989, he had observed that their main challenges were inadequate human resource capacity and equipment to enhance the application of modern scientific methods of fire investigation. He, therefore, indicated that “This collaboration has a huge potential to transform the Service investigation landscape in the country with efficient fire management.”
Putting the Fundamentals in Place
Mr. Blankson noted that under his administration, GNFS would put the fundamentals in place so that the right thing were be done. He noted that it was unfortunate that, they were not able to adequately defend their investigations in the law courts. “We want our report to speak for itself, we want a report that the lawyers and judges can smell it without any doubt and that is what we want UCC to give us,” he stated.
Support of Stakeholders
The Chief Fire Officer indicated that the command of GNFS and the Fire Council, as well as the Ministry of Interior, were fully in support of the collaboration adding that “It is refreshing to note that the training will be received from one of the best universities you can think about”. He, therefore, assured the Vice-Chancellor of their maximum cooperation adding that “The cadet at our Training School will have the opportunity to also go through the course so that they can feel the ethics of UCC.
Mr. Blankson appealed to UCC to introduce a programme in Fire Protection for the Service. He commended the University and the head Department of Forensic Sciences, Dr. Afoakwah, and his team for accepting to train personnel of the Service.
Present at the signing ceremony were some Senior Officers and personnel of the GNFS as well as staff of the Department of Forensic Sciences and a section of the University Community.