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June 02, 2009

 

 

Fire outbreaks in Ghana, any lessons learnt?
Audrey Micah, Ghanadot

Accra, June 1, Ghanadot - Outbreaks of fire at markets to date has brought untold hardships to victims and their households. Despite the devastating nature of the fire outbreaks it seems no one has learned any lesson from the accidents. Year-in-year out, one fire after another, the same accidents happen at our markets.

Last year, there was an unquantifiable loss of property through fire outbreaks at various markets, especially in Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi. And this year, six fire outbreaks so far at markets throughout the country,  with Thursday fire at Kumasi Central Market disaster being the most devastating.

If care is not taken by the end of this year fire would have caused incalculable damage to lives and property at the markets.

 

Unfortunately, those who are usually worse affected are women since they dominate at all the markets.

Some of them contract loans from the banks and savings and loans companies to finance their businesses; and when fire disasters occur most of these women lose everything.

Given the fact that many of these traders are breadwinners who take care of large families it is worrying that they continue to lose their capital and wares to fire which is preventable.

Without doubt, most of the fire outbreaks are caused by the women who sell food at the markets, simply because they cook too close to the shops and items and the slightest spark easily spreads. One other cause known to all is illegal electricity connections and the use of shoddy electrical gadgets.

The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) this morning gave reasons why they have been incapable of dealing with many of the fire outbreaks in the country. According to the Deputy Public Relations Officer of the GNFS, Divisional Officer III Timothy Osafo-Affum, most of the fire engines used in fighting fires have broken down with only turn-table ladder used by firefighters to gain access to high structures for rescue operations.

To him, Kumasi Metropolis for instance, required about 10 fire engines but had only four and that accounted for the difficulty in fighting last Thursday’s inferno at the Kumasi Central Market.

The logistical constraints, coupled with lack of access to fire spots, particularly markets, posed a major challenge to the service.

A visit by GhanaDot to the Tema market painted quiet a sad picture as roads and walk paths leading to the market were blocked by traders who were busily selling their wares regardless of the dangers around them in case of fire outbreak.

Many people have criticized the capabilities of firefighters in the country saying they have not been able to protect the nation as far as fire outbreaks are concern. Others believed, aside the fact that the service lack many facilities, firemen can make the fire service more active by inspecting markets places, homes and companies and making sure that the right procedures are followed.

People also suggested the creation of alleys, elimination of congestion and segregating the markets into veriious sections to enhance easy access by fire engines in times of fire.

There is the need to intensify public education on fire safety and prevention. The issue of public education often comes anytime there is fire outbreak, but it only takes a few days of talking and it ends there until another fire breaks out.

 

Ghanadot

 

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