Addressing incidence of fire outbreaks in Lagos

Considering the recent spate of fire occurrence in which goods and property were destroyed in Lagos State, it has become extremely essential for all and sundry to pay immense attention to safety issues.

Recently, a gas explosion rocked Ajao Estate, thanks to the bravery of men of the State Fire Service and other first responders, the fire was quickly extinguished, thereby minimising damage.

Just as the dust raised by the incidence was settling, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, made spirited efforts to douse another fire incidence that reportedly emanated from an apartment on the second floor of a two-storey building at 3, Ogunlana Street, Oshodi. The said fire incidence, which was reported via 767/112 Toll-Free lines, was attributed to an electrical power surge.

This development is bothersome, bearing in mind its effects on socio-economic life. The price of fire incidents is apparently huge. It results in pains and sometimes deaths to victims, loss of human and material resources as well as damages to equipment and structures. It is, therefore, discouraging to note that most of these disasters are not acts of God, but rather the products of human errors and carelessness.

For instance, the fire episode that once killed a family of seven, in Lagos in 2015, was reportedly caused by candlelight which was not put off at night. Risky acts such as storing of petroleum products at homes and reckless use and storage of cooking gas are common causes of fire outbreaks in our society. Storing of petroleum products at home is especially a sheer act of inconceivable thoughtlessness that must be discouraged.

Equally, many people close at work or leave home without ensuring that all electrical appliances are shut down to prevent the outbreak of fire in case of power surges. It is also dangerous to keep matches and other ignition materials within the reach of children. Other causes of fire outbreaks are careless attitude towards electrical outlets, faulty electrical wiring, damaged electrical appliances, heating gadgets, unattended stove and gases, uncontrolled children’s attitudes towards inflammable materials among others.

To stem the tide of further fire disasters in the State, it has now become crucial for all offices and homes to have efficient fire extinguishers. This is in addition to having functional knowledge of their usages. It is also imperative for everybody to acquire safety information in respect of fire outbreaks. We all need to be aware that fires could generally be put off by water or sand while a special foam chemical could be used to quench oil fire.

People using gas for a domestic or industrial purpose need to be more vigilant. Ovens and stoves should be shut off to prevent an outflow of inflammable and food flaming.

Motorists, chiefly drivers of articulated vehicles, should be more safety-conscious while driving tankers with inflammable products. Ideally, drivers of articulated vehicles ought to be careful and extremely cognizant of the damage any slip on their part could cause in terms of human and material losses. But then, findings have shown that several carnages recorded on Lagos roads which resulted in fire disasters, causing needless losses, have been caused by their complicity.

Additionally, well-meaning individuals, related government agencies and organisations need to embark on fire safety and emergency management. With the level of painful losses experienced as a result of needless fire outbreaks in the State, it is vital for all stakeholders including religious bodies, corporate organisations, schools’ owners, community leaders, Public Servants, political leaders, traditional rulers, NGOs and individuals across the State to toe the path of safety in their daily activities.

Enlightenment advocacy on fire prevention and management must not be left in the hands of government alone. Everyone must be involved. Consequently, every adult resident must educate young ones on all safety measures in order to reduce to the barest minimum the incidence of fire in the state.

The present administration in Lagos State is poised to ensure a safer and better environment for all residents. To this end, it has embarked on pragmatic strategies aimed at repositioning all emergency agencies in the State. It has put in place mechanisms aimed at strengthening collaborative efforts among these various agencies. But for such pro-active measures as this, the effects of current fire episodes in the state would have been more complicated.

The Lagos State Safety Commission as well as the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, are currently at the vanguard of creating consciousness on the dangers of unsafe practices that cause fire and other disasters in the state.

However, for all the first responders to perform optimally, it is important that they are given the right of way by motorists during emergency operations. Provocative acts such as attacking or cursing firefighters, while on duty, must be discontinued.

Meanwhile, residents across the state should continue to take advantage of the state emergency lines, 767 and 112 (tolls free), to contact relevant agencies in case of any emergency.

Ogunbiyi is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja

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