Mitigating losses to inferno; point of call to all Nigerians


Fire outbreaks have become undying, year in year out spate of incidents are reported across Nigeria yet there seems to be no end in sight.  Recently the increasing incident of fire outbreak across the country is worrisome. Adding to the intensity of misfortunes of victims, rising spate of cases of inferno have resulted to loss of lives, properties and goods worth billions of Naira in selected paths of the country. Classroom conceptualisation sees fire as sudden, destructive and damaging occurrence which is initiated by flammable materials and fueling objects.

The unextinguished agony faced by fire outbreak victims are inestimable and at the time one can easily relate. Retrospectively the first recorded fire outbreak occurred as far back 587BC where the temple of city of Jerusalem were utterly destroyed.

Record have it that towards the end of 2019 and within this year 2020 cases of fire outbreaks have surged astronomically, for example the Yesterday’s fire outbreak in the popular Balogun Market in Lagos has been the second in the space of less than a month. Fire out break at Sambo market in Sagamo Ogun state on 28th January 2020, Amu Market in Mushin Lagos on 25th January 2020, Abule Egba Pipeline Explosion on 20th January of the same month. The Port-Harcourt airport’s runway inferno; Ochanya Market, Onitsha Anambra State; and a number of unreported fire outbreaks in public places and homes across Nigeria are cases in focus.

It would be recalled that a fire gut a building in South Campus of the Federal

Polytechnic, Ede, Osun State, on Wednesday. The Osun State Fire Service had in response linked the inferno that razed the uncompleted female hostel  to bush burning in Jere Area, where the campus is located. The Fire Service said the raging fire from a burning bush spread to the premises of the polytechnic late Wednesday and razed parts of the storey building. The Fire Service estimated the worth of the properties lost to the inferno at over N10 million.

Often times we are loaded with cacophony of reactions, empathy and sympathy when befallen with fire incidents without an appropriate panacea.  Adequate fire safety measures and precautions are inefficient on the path of the government, organisations, civil society and individuals. It has been observed that causes of fire outbreak are mostly remote. This can be due to dry weather, electrical faults, heat transfer, cooking appliances left-on, candle, power surge, illegal electrical connections, the use of inferior electrical parts, inappropriate handling of petrol tankers, buildings without fire compactments, lack of proper supervision of fire agencies on fire- prone buildings and organisations.

However, the bottom line is not to lie too long on the bench of lamentation, but rather recommendations and essence on  preventing and managing fire outbreak across the Country to guide against grave losses. According to Experts, fire safety is considered to be dependent on how individuals,  organisations and the government behave with respect to fire-related matters. Focusing on all these will result to the reduction of fire outbreaks in the country.

The first way-out is early detection of intending fire incident. Fire technologies have made this easier with fire alarm systems. Efforts to install these systems in private apartments,  homes and public buildings, should be driven by the government and complemented by private individuals and organisations.  Next is proper education and information about fire safety to carried out in public places and homes by individual, organisations and ultimately the government are pivotal. There is a  primary point of call for all fire related emergency agencies such as the Federal Fire Service, State Fire Services, National Emergency Management Agencies, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp, Redcross, National and States Environmental Protection Boards, Power Distribution Companies should embark on efficient fire safety awareness and sensitisation programmes to enlighten individuals and the public’s on fire safety precautions.

Also, there is need for systematic, transparent and efficient inspection as well as supervision of fire prevention works by licensed government organisations, private companies and individuals.  Finally, individuals, organisations and government should put fire security at the centre of the construction of private and public buidings by incorporating proper architectural makeup for fire escape and assemblage. The use of quality electrical materials during electrical installation, formal and informal training on fire safety precautions are important measures all need to embrace to guide against future fire occurrences.

This safety precautions will no doubt undone the ills of fire outbreaks in Nigeria as the saying goes “Fire destruction is one Man’s job, fire prevention is everyone’s job.” This is a wake-up call on the government, organisations and the general publics to be more practically oriented toward curbing fire incidents as the safety of lives and properties are sacrosanct to any progressive country.