By Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

Ghana is said to have recorded more than 160 fire outbreaks in the previous year in our domestic, industrial and government settings. Some of the affected outfits were the Melcom building in the industrial area in Accra and the government medical stores in Tema not forgetting domestic fire outbreaks that claimed lives children at Koforidua and Bolgatanga eastern and upper west regional capitals respectively. Apart from the human cost the financial cost of the calamities (that could prevented) run into hundreds of million cedis.

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Although many people have given reasons for the perennial outbreak of fires some people are quick to attribute it all to either arson or the harmattan that seems to be long and severe on us this time. I will not be hard on those who hold their own views on the fire outbreaks. However we need to consider that the fires outbreaks are annual occurrence for which reason the Ghana Fire Service was ordered by government to undertake fire safety audit in all government buildings to determine the real causes of the fires. We do know whether or not all government buildings have been examined as ordered by government to determine their readiness to follow fire safety programs. If the audit has been carried out has the Ghana fire service presented their report to government?

What needs to be appreciated is that most government buildings across the country like the medical stores and the old parliament house building were built in the Gold Coast or soon after Ghana attained independence in 1957. These building that are 50 years and over were built at a time when their capacities were low. Now that we have increased the use of those buildings, the capacities of the outfits such as hospitals, warehouses schools and government offices and bungalows are overstretched.

The government has responsibility to refurbish all old structural and electrical fittings of most of the buildings in the country. When this is done there is the need for all the buildings to be provided twenty four hours surveillance by security men with the ability to check on daily basis the use and misuse of electricity in the buildings especially because most fire outbreaks occur at night when all workers have left for home. We need to pay attention to the need to educate people on why we experience fire outbreaks generally including domestic fire outbreaks through wrong handling of gas cookers, electric irons, water heaters and candles. We need to embark on preventive measures instead of reacting to fires when they have already occurred.

With regard to candles they have been deadly during the periods of power cuts especially in kiosks belonging single mothers and dads who place lighted candles wrongly while their children are asleep. Since the children in these kiosks often get burnt those occupying kiosks need some education on this issue. With regard to the use of electric irons and water heaters the users must be made to desist from leaving them on after being used especially during this period of regulated power cuts. Gas cookers can also be dangerous if the users fail to attention to them.

We cannot take anything away from the Ghana Fire Service which over the years has obtained many new and modern fire tenders with which it has been fighting fires despite the problems of poor access to water hydrants. Even though Ghana fire service is fighting fires, we must pay attention to the preventive means of keeping fires away from our homes, government offices and our industries.

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