Sunday 6th February, 2011Printable Version
Accra, Feb. 6, GNA - The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), on Sunday, expressed concern about the increasing spate of fire disasters in the country and urged the general public to observe fire safety precautions, to minimise fires.
In a wide-ranging set of safety measures to be observed in the markets, warehouses, offices and workplaces, the GNFC stressed that fire safety was "a shared responsibility".
Several markets, offices, houses and warehouses have been gutted by fire in recent years, with heavy loss of plant, equipment, materials, money and buildings.
On market fire safety, the GNFS recommended that the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and market associations should set up Fire Safety Committees to ensure fire safety in the markets.
Regional Fire Commanders have been directed to liaise with MMDAs to establish Fire Posts in the various markets, and that fire wardens would be trained to ensure a 24-hour check and monitoring.
The statement said the GNFS should be contacted to train members of such committees.
It said Regional Fire Commanders were to ensure that MMDAs and the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) provided the needed fire hydrants within the various markets for fire fighting, since the markets were under the jurisdiction of the Assemblies.
It said this should be taken seriously and urged civil society, community-based organisations, opinion leaders and the general public to hold the MMDAs and GWCL accountable to provide the fire hydrants within the communities, to aid fire fighting operations.
It said the MMDAs must contract the services of qualified electrical contractors and/or the Electricity Company of Ghana, with the involvement of the GNFS, to routinely conduct inspections in the markets and to do away with illegal electrical connections, as well as prosecuting those involved.
The MMDAs must also make sure that inappropriate electrical cables as well as inferior cables, which result in fire outbreaks, are not used.
Shop owners, traders and market authorities must ensure segregation of goods in the market, traders and shop owners must be monitored to switch off all electrical appliances that are not to stay overnight, with plugs removed from the sockets, while shop owners and traders are not to leave fans, electric irons on during power cuts.
The GNFS also urged MMDAs to ensure that the layouts, access routes and entrances to the markets are not encroached upon by traders, hindering fire fighting.
"Spaces provided in the markets through fire engineering, to help check fire spread must not be converted into stores and shops," it said.
Other precautionary measures in the markets include re-examination of all electrical installations that are more than 10 years old; halt the storage of coal pots, stoves and other cooking gadgets in wooden cabinets immediately after use, and end to overloading of extension cables.
On warehouse fire safety, the GNFS called for adequate ventilation, avoidance of packing of materials close or up to the ceiling and walls, halt to packing of materials close to electrical fittings and regular maintenance of electrical equipment.
GNFS advised that hazardous materials must be handled and stored according to the manufacturers' instructions, all electrical gadgets must be switched off, qualified electricians must handle electrical installations and only appropriate electrical cables must be used.
On offices and workplaces, the GNFS advised that there must be regular inspection of electrical equipment, workers must avoid overheating, misuse and use of faulty electrical equipment, while electrical gadgets must not be left unattended to for long hours.
"Every employee must be trained to understand the dangers and interplay of risk factors, to make informed contributions to reduce fires," the GNFS said.GNA