The Upper WestRegionalCommanderof the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO) Abraham NiiDodoohas blamed the surge in fire cases in the region on negligence on the partof individuals and organisations to adhere to fire safety principles in their daily activities.
The Commander lamented that in spite of the numerous education and fire safety campaigns by his outfit, accidental fires recorded last year surpassed the figure for 2020 and said it was due to the lack of attention to fire safety measures on the part of some of the victims.
He declared that the region recorded a total of 289 cases of accidental fires last year as against 244 in 2020, representing an 18.4 per cent increment.
ACFO Dodoo who stated this in an interview with the Ghanaian Times here on Tuesday pointed out that domestic fire which had always topped the list of cases recorded escalated from 80 in 2020 to 110 in 2021.
He explained that the worrying situation led to the loss of properties amounting to GH₵1,161,817whereas the service was able to salvage a total of GH₵3,505.334 items from getting destroyed by accidental fires.
“Several thousands of Cedis has been lost as a result of negligence and lack of attention to fire safety details,” he stated and said although the year was still young, the service hadalready recorded at least ten fire incidents.
He said that the incidents included the burning down of two two-bedroom apartments which were yet to be handed over by the contractor at the DrHillaLimann Technical University as well as the burning down of a very large tract of farm in theWa East District.
The Commander said these incidents were in spite of the fact thatthe GNFS embarked on sensitisation programmesat the beginning of each year to remind residents to clear weeds around structures to a reasonable limit to serve as fire breaks; avoid indiscriminate setting of fire and also promptly reportuncontrolled fire to the service for early intervention.
“We also encourage people to reach out to the GNFS immediately they suspect a fire outbreak but some of themwill attempt to douse the flames and only call us when they fail by which time the fire would have spread already. We are also urging residents to get to the nearest fire station and pick their local phone lines tocall during fire incidents,” he said.
ACFO Dodoo called on the Ghana Water Company Limited(GWCL) and the Community Water and Sanitation Agency(CWSA) to ensure the provision of fire hydrants at vantage points particularly in new settlements and at educational institutions to facilitate prompt firefighting.
For his part, the Regional Public Relations Officer of the GNFS, Divisional Officer III, Martin Bakobie,noted that fire-fighting was a shared responsibility and called on the municipal and district chief executives to constitute bush firecontrol sub-committees to regulate the burning of vegetation as mandated by the PNDC Law 229 section (5).
He stated that according to the law, persons who started bush fire which resulted in uncontrolled fire were liable to 12 months imprisonment,among other punishment.
DO IIIBakobieencouraged the various institutions to work collaboratively with the GNFS when putting up structures to make sure they were fire compliant to prevent accidental fires.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA