In the wake of recent fire outbreaks in the country, especially in public buildings, the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) has commenced fire safety audits in ministries, departments and agencies.

The audits are meant to identify fire hazards, fire safety defects, and the need to institute corrective measures aimed at ensuring adequate fire safety measures in such buildings.

At a news conference in Accra Thursday on the recent fire outbreaks, Mr. William Brown-Acquaye, the Chief Fire Officer, appealed to the public and property owners that are legally expected to comply with fire safety requirements to operate with fire safety inspectors in their efforts at ensuring fire safety compliance.

Mr. Brown-Acquaye said the service had intensified public fire safety education at lorry parks, market places, and at the community level, stressing that the public education team had already visited, Makola, Madina, Dansoman and Mallam markets all in Accra.

He urged the Ghana Standards Board to check and prevent the importation of inferior electrical equipment, gadgets and switches which could lead to overheating and eventually cause fire outbreaks.

“We have seen inferior air-conditioner switches catching fire and leading to fire outbreaks. We have inferior ceiling fan regulators becoming unduly heated, which may lead to fire outbreaks,” he said.

He advised that buildings that had been in existence for over 10 years should undergo inspection and testing of electrical cables and installation by electrical engineers for possible re-wiring.

The Chief Fire Officer also asked owners and occupants of public places of work and premises of corporate bodies to collaborate regularly with GNFS to inspect and run testing exercises on fighting accoutrement, including fire hydrants, heels and sprinkler systems.

Mr. Brown-Acquaye stated that the perceived alarming rate of fire outbreaks in the country did not represent the reality on the ground, arguing that the rate of outbreaks in 2009 compared to 2008 rather showed an appreciable reduction.

Using Greater Accra as a case study, he said 2008 registered 596 fire outbreaks as against 500 in 2009. At the national level, he said the figures for 2008 and 2009 indicated a reduction of 665 fire outbreaks.

He said the GNFS was working closely with a Committee on High-rise Buildings, which comprised representatives of corporate bodies and institutions, to raise funds to acquire special fire tenders that would fight fire outbreaks in tall buildings.

Mr. Kwesi Bentil, chairman of the seven member-committee, said the committee planned to acquire at least two Turn Table Ladder vehicles, at a cost of about 1.5 million dollars each, to complement the government’s efforts.

He appealed to corporate institutions and other stakeholders to lend their support to the committee in its fund raising campaign to enable the GNFS to deal with fire outbreaks in high rise buildings.

In the latter part of last year, the country experienced a series of fire outbreaks, especially, in public buildings and installations resulting, in some instances; in loss of lives as well as archival materials and documents of historical significance.

They included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, the Electoral Commission, the Forestry Commission, the Tema Oil Refinery and more recently, the official residence of former President J.J. Rawlings.

Source: Ghanaian Times