The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) in the Upper West Region recorded nine incidents of institutional fires from January to March, this year. The figure exceeded the three incidents recorded for the same period last year.
The nine incidents involved mostly second-cycle institutions in the region such as the Wa Technical Senior High School in the Wa Municipality as well as the Eremon and Lawra Senior High Schools in the Lawra Municipal.
The figure was presented to the Ghanaian Times at Wa on Monday by the GNFS in the region with a passionate appeal from the Regional Commander, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Grade One (ACFO I) Henry Asiedu for institutions in the region to adhere to fire safety precaution to prevent future accidents.
He intimated that fire audits were conducted in the affected schools and reports that contained recommendations were drafted and shared with the schools and other stakeholders in the region to guide adherence to fire safety principles.
He was worried that some of the institutions in the region did not have fire extinguishers to use in cases of emergencies and those who had them had not serviced them in years and hence were unable to make use of them in instances of fire.
On the whole, fire incidents reduced from 86 in the first quarter of last year to 74 this year and the regional commander was hoping to further beat down the numbers through proactive measures such as education and sensitisation of the public to fire prevention and fire safety.
“Contrary to popular assertion that the fire service delayed when called to duty, personnel of the GNFS are committed to their work and would not jeopardize anyone’s safety; however, the problem sometimes has to do with the brief distress call we receive which does not give a specific indication of the place of incident and we have to waste time calling back or trying to identify the exact location, among other challenges”, he added.
He debunked the assertion that personnel sometimes went to fire scenes with empty trucks and said no trained personnel would move an empty truck to a scene and further explained that the issue was sometimes about the unavailability of fire hydrants at vantage points for a refill when they had exhausted the water in the truck and had to go back to the station for more.
For his part, the Regional Staff Officer, Divisional Officer III, Alexis Kodi Suonyiri appealed to the public to support the work of the service and also take their safety seriously by ensuring that the structures they put up were safe enough for use.
DOIII Suonyiri intimated that domestic fires were reduced from 39 to 32 and said the figure could be further reduced if people put safety first when constructing their buildings by including fire safety gadgets and emergency exits.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA