THE RECENT FIRE OUTBREAKES AND THE NEED FOR A PRAGMATIC ACTION

 

Ghana just had a successful election. This is another feather in our cap. The whole world saluted us and parted us on the back. Christmas followed the elections. This saw the use of illegal fire-crackers and burning of tires on streets. Few days after, the fire festival has spread across the country and destroying several properties.

Fire has gutted some shops at the Bogoso Junction in Tarkwa in the Western Region in the morning of Monday January 14, 2013. About five shops and a car have been burnt to ashes by the fire, which was later brought under control by personnel from the Ghana National Fire Service. Fire has in the past few days, gutted shops, houses and businesses in Suame Magazine in Kumasi, ECOMOG near Nkrumah Circle in Accra, and B.B.C. Industrial Company Ghana Limited in Tema. The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) has recorded a total of two hundred and fifty-four fire outbreaks so far in 2013.

Prince Billy Anaglatey, the Public Relations Officer of Ghana National Fire Service, was quoted to have cited the harmattan dry season as the catalyst for the emergence of this fire festival in Ghana. However, we cannot always blame these fire outbreaks on natural occurrences. It has been discovered that about seventy-five per cent of fire outbreaks in the country are caused by smoking, fifteen per cent out of ignorance and ten per cent out of accidents. This reveals that the Ghanaian is not educated enough about the causes of fire and immediate actions to take when fire breaks out. We might have done some education but so far as the recent fire outbreaks seem uncontrollable, we cannot part one another on the back.

Ghana has enacted a law to ban smoking at public places but whether this law is being enforced is another issue. Each day, we see people walking on pedestrian walkways, sitting in drinking bars or in “trotros” smoking freely as if it were legal. Under the Act 537, people who wanted to build were supposed to obtain Fire Safety Certificate from the Ghana National Fire Service before building their houses. But how many citizens of our nation know and do this? The ECOMOG fire outbreak during the weekend is an example of the lack of compliance to this law.

Available statistics show that Ghana lost 1.74 million Ghana cedis to fire in the first quarter of 2012 and 1.62 million Ghana cedis in 2011. It is also estimated that ninety-nine per cent of market fire outbreaks were preventable but due to the poorly structured nature of the markets, most of them end up in flames upon a small spark of fire. These preventable fire outbreaks cannot be allowed to continue. The law enforcement agencies should be up and doing. The Public Relations Officer of the Ghana National Fire Service recently noted that that vehicular traffic and periodical shortage of hydrants are hindrances to putting out fires. People should endeavor to switch off their electrical gadgets after using them or when going to work. Ghanaians should always include fire safety measures in their building plans. The Ghana National Fire Service should collaborate with the Ghana Police Service to mount exercises to ensure that people comply with fire safety regulations. Hydrants should be made available in market places and traders should be trained on the basic skills in fire fighting in order for them to prevent such situations.

All Ghanaians must make personal pledged to curb this undesirable phenomenon which in recent days is becoming a characteristics of our country. All hands must be on deck

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