Fire outbreaks in Ghana: The real causes

Ghana has already witnessed two fire outbreaks at the beginning of the year (1st and 2nd January), one in Accra (MTN warehouse on Spintex Road burnt down) and the other in Kumasi(parts of Kumasi market guttered). On the 12th of the same month (January), a fuel tanker got burnt when the driver tried to pass over a speed ramp at Anyinase, burning two people to ashes on the spot and destroying buildings. At the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, another fire broke out on the same day, destroying household property running into millions of Ghana Cedis.

Image - A fire outbreak scene
People have lost so much to fires recently. Ignorance is a huge contributor to this.

As if that was not enough for the day, another fire outbreak was experienced at the Tema Industrial Area, a fire which was described by many as explosive in nature (as the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) personnel themselves attested to this).

In recent times, Ghana has witnessed a huge number of fire outbreaks, especially at the market centres. As to whether these fires are orchestrations of some individuals or not, we all continue to guess in the dark. Many people are quick to blame the carelessness of everyone else in one way or the other and not themselves.

The GNFS personnel often complain that they don't get easy access to the fire whenever they arrive at the scene of a fire outbreak to perform their duty because of the manner in which structures and buildings are constructed. They also complain that most of the material around these fire points are combustible and hence could set the whole area ablaze with just a spark.

What do you think may be major causes of these fires? Could it be that we attach less importance to basic safety principles? Could it also be that we are careless in dealing with the combustible material?

What of ignorance? It could also be that many people can't differentiate between flammable and non-flammable. Most people who sell in our markets can't tell if the products they are vending are combustible or not.

It could also be that some of these fires which are often linked to faulty electrical connections are as a result of lack of maintenance of the facilities involved. For example, a building which has been wired far back in 1976 would not be checked for any connection problems and no renovation done, provided the lights continue to come on and the building shows no signs of collapse. I think our culture of maintenance has to improve if we are to see a downward trend in the spate of fire outbreaks in our country.

The attitude of some people also has to change. The law regarding smoking in public places has to be strictly applied. Some smokers just throw the butts of their cigarettes anywhere after smoking, without putting the fire off. This fire, when it comes into contact with combustible material, can cause a huge disaster like any of those above.

The way we dispose of our waste can also be the cause of a fire outbreak. Some people just gather their waste and burn it in the open. In the process, a strong wind can carry sparks to a nearby combustible material. This can lead to fire outbreaks of the magnitude above.

Not all fires are by accident. Some fire outbreaks are also intentionally caused. Workers who may be the focus of an investigation for alleged malfeasance can set fire to their offices in case the documents to be audited will land them in jail. However, I don't believe any politician and an opposition one for that matter would intentionally set a market on fire just because their rival political party is in power. For all you know, it may even affect them more in the subsequent elections. So let that crap be thrown to the dogs and vultures.

We all need to get involved in bringing this situation under control.

What do you think can be done to ensure the number of fire outbreaks can be reduced to their barest minimum? Share your thoughts here.

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