Growing fire incidence in FCT
Despite efforts by government and private individuals to curb the rate of fire incidents across the country, the task still remains a herculean task as cases of fire outbreaks are daily recorded in Nigeria.
In the nation’s capital alone, statistics from the FCT Fire department show that cases of fire incidences are more during the harmattan season. Only recently part of the Kugbo furniture market was razed by fire where goods and equipment worth millions of naira were destroyed in the disaster.
Though records from the fire department portray efforts deployed in contending with fire incidence, fire incidences such as that of Kugbo market seem to diminish such efforts.
Most at times, the outbreak can be so fierce that calling on the service look like an exercise in futility as the agency’s promptness has left more to be desired in terms of service delivery.
Nigerians have continued to narrate their ordeals and sad tales in view of the inability of the agency to address the seeming challenge posed by it. The believe in some quarters is that the failure is due to lack of preparation or retraining of personnel’s despite yearly allocation from the government to address these peculiar situations.
There have been occasion where most incidences have been as a result of surge in the electrical appliances, home and office, bad attitude to switch over power connection after close of work, brake failure of heavy duty trucks on the roads conveying inflammable substances, accidents and host of other factors necessitating these disturbing trend of fire outburst which have sent families to their early grave or have some deprived of their livelihood due to loss of valuables in the inferno.
An engineer, who didn’t want his name in-print, shared his experience with METRO over the hazards faced by the fire service. “Since fire incident cannot be predicted, it is expected that modalities and strategies for its control should be put in place. It is not funny that despite yearly monies spent by the government, only on a few occasions they have recorded success though with lots laying in waste.
“Why is it so difficult to have Nigerians trained to respond to fire outbreak at short notices? Citizens are now driving governance in modern democracy through their involvement. The need to know. I understand so many things are wrong. No light. Will you not power your phone before you can call with it for an emergency? It is a huge challenge. Let the government do more. Nigerians are not asking for too much.”
Reacting, the Public Relation Officer of the FCT Fire Service, Jerry Timveh, said “talking about frequent fire outbreak, we are all aware that this is harmattan season. And, the atmosphere is charged and anything that comes in contact with igniter is very likely to spark out fire.
“We are prepared for all emergencies within the FCT. Our respond time is within five minutes. We have been receiving commendations from the public over this timely disposition to distress calls. And, how proactive our men have been on the field. We are ready and prepared to face the challenges of fire outbreak within the capital city.
On the aspect of negligence by some workers in the Ministries and MDAS, he stressed the need for such workers to be reminded that for not switching off those office appliances, they are doing more damage because when there is power surge, it will affect areas that was not connected to where the fire started from.
“We have continued to raise the awareness that workers and staff of these various offices should always ensure they switch off their electrical tools before leaving for the day. We have made it a point that they should write a warning sign and place it at the front of their doors stating that you must switch of all appliances before leaving for the day otherwise, you put everyone in trouble. It is complete negligence.
“We are still sending those messages using different medium. Don’t live your electrical appliances on, if you are leaving the office. Or even though PHCN takes the light. Because once they return power, you might not be around to switch off those things which might lead to fire. We should know how to handle some of this things. Like in the offices, they are supposed to have firefighting equipment but they don’t. Maybe for one reason or another they don’t.
“As you know, we interface with fire on a daily basis and one day someday it will happen. What we need to do is to be careful when dealing with fire because the day it will happened, it will not be a funny experience. And, we don’t want it to happen to anybody.
On what the government can do by way of support, he noted: “In the FCT, we appreciate the Minister. The FCT administration has been trying its best for us as a department. If, you go round this city, we have fourteen stations. One in each of the area council. All this stations are functional. We don’t have moribund stations. They are all equipped. So, I can say we are up to date.
“Towards the end of last year, the FEC approved more equipment for us which we are waiting to take the delivery of some of them. We are calling on corporate bodies to come and partner with us. I can say the FCT administration is trying and that is why we can boast of responding to any emergency in the FCT. But, that notwithstanding we still need more of those sophisticated equipment that can assist us deliver on any emergency.”
Meanwhile, the DG, FCT Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, Iddris Abbas stated that part of the reoccurrences of the fire challenges in the FCT according to experience were due to two factors.
“One, it can could be seasonal. And, second, could be attitudinal. To us, it is attitudinal because people don’t do the necessary housekeeping at the time when the wind is blowing. Yes, it is a dry season. We have always been calling on fellow citizens to change their attitude. The recent fire incident in Kubo area as you are aware was due to bushfire.
“So, somebody just threw the fire like matches and it ignited. And, people were seeing it and they allowed it to continue. From the way it is, you can see the attitude, plus the season combined together. So, we do as much as we can to enlighten the public as an agency, so that people should know. During the raining season, we face flood and other climatological disasters. And, during the dry season, we also face this challenges. Each side is either side of the coin is a disaster.
“So, we try as much as possible to enlighten the public on what to do and not what to do. And, our team of rescuers are always on standby to see what they can do to reduce the effect of the disaster, if we cannot really prevent it. The primary of any emergency intervention for disaster management is to prevent it.”
The FEMA boss reiterated further with a call for more resources to be devoted for emergency management. He said because of the climatic change, the weather has taken a different shape and the citizens must beware of the homestead.
“In every situation especially with the climate change, you need a lot of resources to do a lot of things and even the public enlighten. We need money to do that. Most radio, TV and newspapers you can go, you will see they have a lot of exorbitant rates that you have to pay for it before you can get it. And, if you want to really reach out you have to pay more for it.
He decried the increasing rate of gas explorations around the country noting that the agency has undertaken a comprehensive study of all gas stations in the FCT.
Photo: Part of Kugbo furniture market after a fire outbreak.
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