Stakeholders demand new firefighting technology as Lagos leads equipment refresh

exist Fires across the country have caused loss of life and property in the past. The latest fire incident was recorded last week at the West African Examinations Board building headquarters in Lagos State. Seven women trapped on the third floor of the building were eventually rescued alive.

Earlier, it was reported that between January 2020 and September 2020, the country witnessed more than 60 fire incidents in many states. In the first quarter of 2020, Lagos recorded two pipeline explosions in the Abule-Egba and Abule-Ado areas, killing 21 people and destroying more than 100 buildings and 11 trucks.

Also in January 2021, a fire in the Arad Market in the Somolu region of Lagos state destroyed no less than 170 well-stocked stores, including food items, gas cylinders and more. While 101 stores were rescued by firefighters, 70 stores were affected by the outbreak.

A 2021 report by the Federal Fire Service identified electrical sparks as the leading cause of fire incidents nationwide. According to reports, in 2021, there will be 636 fire accidents and 447 electrical equipment accidents caused by discharge.

It added that gas and special services, cigarette butts and bush burning accounted for 151 and 133 incidents respectively. Hypertension also accounted for 106 cases, 91 of which were caused by recklessly lighting candles.

The illegal storage of petroleum products was also reported to have sparked 85 fire incidents, with a total of 136 people killed in the fires.

In addition, Kaduna State National Fire Service Chief Paul Aboy said that in 2021, the state recorded 716 fire incidents.

He revealed that January had the highest incidence with 112 outbreaks, while March recorded 94 cases. He added that there were 91 cases in December and 76 in April 2021, noting that high outbreak rates are usually recorded between December and April due to the dry season.

In January 2022 alone, about 10 fires broke out in markets and commercial establishments in Warri, Delta, resulting in the destruction of valuables. The trend has forced Warri South Local Government Chairman Dr Micheal Tidi to launch a campaign to stop the dangerous trend.

Fire events are not limited to the above states. They spanned many states. At the same time, the Lagos State Government is determined to reduce fire hazards in the state, authorizing the state fire department to equip 62 new firefighting equipment, including fire trucks and support vehicles​​.

Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu pledged at his inauguration to provide more equipment and trained personnel to respond to emergency fire and rescue services across the state.

However, experts have identified power surges, sparks, electrical equipment, neglect and lack of adequate fire safety equipment as the main causes of recent fires, urging people to take certain safety precautions.

Fire safety expert Alex Nwankwo said the environmental impact of a fire outbreak could lead to loss of life and financial loss if the necessary precautions are not taken.

He said: “Its impact on the environment is such that if there is a fire in one building, it can easily affect the others, causing losses in several ways; economic and human losses. People should take the necessary precautions. There is no magic there. Just letting people know how to use a fire extinguisher.”

He noted that people need to get into the habit of equipping apartments, offices and other commercial areas with safety equipment in the event of a fire outbreak.

Nwankwo added: “Most of the cables that are sold in the market now are substandard. This is one of the problems in Nigeria right now, when there is a little challenge; people will see the cable spewing out of the cable. We recommend that people should buy the original cable to wire their houses. People should also have fire extinguishers and fire blankets at home. Many houses and offices don’t have this equipment. When you go to some places, you will find outdated fire extinguishers. Some of them are just Leave them there without necessary repairs. I’ve seen a situation where a car explodes and there is no fire extinguisher to put it out.

“The basic fire safety equipment I recommend modern homeowners install is a smoke detector. When a smoke detector is available, it will detect any form of smoke before a fire breaks out. Fire extinguishers are divided into different categories; dry chemical, ECP and CO2. We recommend that for electrical fires, people should use ECP, but for splash fires like coming out of the kitchen area, they should use CO2. For tankers, what is needed is a firefighting alternative; use water mixed with chemicals. In some Industrial areas, if left unattended, most complexes have sprinklers that can put out fires.”

The safety expert explained the importance of having well-equipped fire stations in strategic locations in a state, noting that quick access to them will prevent or mitigate the effects of any fire outbreak.

However, Nwankwo urged state governments to provide hydrant points for easy access to water in an emergency.

He said: “Most of the time, logistics is the reason why firefighters are late to the scene of a fire incident. It could be that their truck is faulty, there is no water, fuel, there is not enough manpower and there could be an error in the communication process. People should also be made aware of emergency codes, So that whenever there’s a fire, they’ll be in touch with the appropriate agencies. The government needs to put these things in place, and maybe they can expand their service locations to places where there are more residential areas. If there are a lot of fire stations, it will reduce emergency time. It’s difficult for them to get to remote areas, but if there is a station nearby, it can save the situation.”

Additionally, Anselm Ozueh, a safety and facility management expert, said states need to ensure everyone is aware of fire prevention measures to reduce fire incidents. Regular checks on power can be an important preventive measure, he said, adding that one of the ways to contain fire outbreaks is to provide adequate safety equipment.

He said: “Prevention is the way to deal with this situation. All appliances should be turned off when not in use and discarded if they fail. It is also important to check the facility regularly to make sure everything is in order. Once heat is generated from where it should not be It should be dealt with urgently. If it is an electrical fault, it should be repaired by a specialist. Homes, offices and markets should also be equipped with various types of fire extinguishers. The use of such equipment is non-negotiable.”

He also identified negligence and carelessness as the cause of the fires, adding that states need to ensure proper awareness of fire outbreaks.

Ozueh added: “The main cause of fires in this part of the world is negligence. There is this level of carelessness in our approach to work. For example, when a fire breaks out in a generator room, the power supplying the entire facility must be shut down. The facility may A 500KVA generator was needed to power it, but due to the economic situation in the country, they decided to use a lower capacity generator. This could cause the cables to melt and eventually cause a fire. Some electricians were also careful. When they needed to connect the cables And try to avoid some exposure, not doing well in private, public and commercial facilities. Fire incidents in the market are often caused by electrical sparks. Sometimes people don’t turn off their appliances after get off work. People need Be aware of turning off appliances when they’re not there because some people turn on fans, air conditioners and others go out. These items can create sparks. There can also be power surges in the power supply.”

According to him, firefighters at various gas stations must also improve their attitude towards fire incidents.

He suggested that they develop an ownership model to handle such events.

He added. “Attitudes towards work and firefighting should have a direction and we should also be guardians of our brothers. There is a professional approach to approaching fires. It starts with urgency, readiness. What happens in this area is when firefighting When the department receives an emergency call, they will begin loading vehicles and searching for other necessary firefighting equipment.

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