Almost on a daily basis, the country is confronted with disasters resulting from fire outbreaks. Within the last couple of weeks, there have been nasty incidents in various parts of the country, whereby facilities such as school dormitories, residential and business centers have been reduced to ashes. Fire, is a very useful tool in people's daily lives, but can be a deadly weapon. Call it a faithful servant but a dangerous master. From every indication, there is the urgent need to handle fire with extreme care. Taking fire for granted has almost always led to loss of lives and property, pain and sorrow. During fire outbreaks, people are rendered homeless, even if for a period, and there are fatal outcomes, most of the time. People are exposed to various dangers in their undertakings, either at home, the workplace, or enclosed places of leisure. The high rate of catastrophe due to fire, underscores people's vulnerability and poses safety and security challenges in an era characterized by technological advancement.
The cause of fire outbreaks may however be ‘accidental’ in some cases. But human error, either in the form of negligence, or omission and commission, is the major cause. For example, disregarding warnings on overloading electrical distributor or extension boards, failure to repair faulty electrical appliances, poor connection of gas cylinders or leakage on regulators have all resulted in very regrettable consequences. Not too long ago, sawdust heaped at a saw-mill located in a residential area, in Accra, went up in flames. Adjoining houses could not be spared in the inferno that ensued. It is also on record that student hostels, dormitories and other halls of residence in parts of the country have all been consumed by fire. A popular entertainment center near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, in Accra, Vienna City was the latest victim of such fire. The night club was engulfed in fire allegedly due to overloaded electrical appliances. According to some eye witnesses, the fire began from an air conditioner.
Over and over again, the Ghana National Fire Service has spoken of the need to pay particular attention to electrical wiring's and appliances and the need to engage only professionals in repairs of appliances or wiring. It is unfortunate that not many people take these calls seriously. Interestingly, some attribute their inability to engage professionals, to cost. This is shocking because it appears such people are oblivious of the deadly effect, in the event of a fire outbreak, on themselves, their neighbors and the country at large. Quite apart from domestic and industrial fires, one also has to be worried about bush fires. Small sparks from naked fire brands, or poorly-snuffed cigarette stubs have caused tracts of farmland to be burnt to ashes in certain parts of the country. There is no doubt that this has devastating consequences on food security, wild life and environmental sustainability. There are also instances when such fires are caused deliberately. In criminal jurisprudence, it is referred to as arson. This is a situation where an aggrieved person or group, with the intention of inflicting pain, uses fire as a means for revenge or to settle scores.
In any case, there is the urgent need for every individual to be vigilant and safety conscious. There has been a lot of sensitization and training on fire safety at work places and other commercial centers, but there still remains a lot of work to be done. This is especially so, because it appears that despite all the sensitization and awareness, compliance is still low in communities and work places. This is reflected in the fact that, even in some big establishments, authorities do not comply with fire safety rules. Most of them do not have fire safety installations or certificates. In view of the increasing fire outbreaks and their devastating effects, it is about time, everyone took fire safety as his or her business, for one person’s carelessness or negligence can result in chaos in the home, workplace, community and public facilities.
BY: KWEKU ANTHONY ANNAN, A SOCIAL COMMENTATOR.