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