In recent times, fire incidents have become rampant, posing significant threats to both homes and businesses.
There is no doubt that the rising frequency of such disaster necessitates a proactive approach to fire prevention.
Last weekend, over 6,000 traders lost their livelihoods after fire destroyed about 450 shops, hotels and offices at Mandilas, a popular market on Lagos Island.
On the same day, a fire from bush burning razed 50 houses in Tse-Agubor Gyaruwa of Tsambee-Mbesev Council Ward in Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State, killing an 80-year-old woman in the process.
The surge in fire incidents has raised concerns over the need for individuals and businesses to re-examine their preparedness and prevention measures.
The Head of Territorial Operations, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), South West, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, in an interview with Daily Trust shared five key strategies to help homes and businesses avert fire and mitigate the losses in the event of an outbreak.
Fire safety education
Farinloye stated that one of the primary defences against fire incidents is a well-informed community. He emphasized the need for comprehensive fire safety education in homes and workplaces.
“This includes educating residents and employees on the proper use of fire extinguishers, emergency evacuation procedures, and general fire safety practices. Knowledgeable individuals are better equipped to respond swiftly and effectively in the face of an emergency,” he said.
Installation and maintenance of fire alarms
Early detection is paramount in minimizing fire-related damage. Citing the Mandillas fire incident, Farinloye said the outbreak was not immediately discovered, adding that a lot of damage could have been averted if the fire was spotted on time.
He then noted that properly installed and regularly maintained fire alarm systems played a crucial role in providing early warnings.
He highlighted the significance of investing in high-quality fire alarms and ensuring routine checks to guarantee their functionality.
“Timely alerts enable occupants to evacuate promptly and emergency responders to intervene swiftly,” Farinloye said.
Using fire-resistant building materials
The NEMA official emphasized the importance of using fire-resistant building materials in construction, especially for residential and commercial structures.
“Incorporating fire-resistant materials significantly reduces the speed at which a fire can spread, providing additional time for evacuation and firefighting efforts. This preventative measure is essential for mitigating potential losses,” he said.
Drilling of fire hydrants in strategic locations
Farinloye noted that homes and businesses located in areas prone to fires should have fire hydrants around their premises. Fire hydrants play a pivotal role in firefighting efforts, providing a readily available water source for emergency responders.
“By strategically drilling these hydrants in specific locations, authorities ensure quick and efficient access to water, crucial for containing and extinguishing fires,” he stated.
Avoiding illegal structures
Construction of illegal structures ends up becoming obstructions when trying to access these places in times of emergencies.
Farinloye noted that property owners should be strict about making sure their structures have no obstructions in case of emergencies.
He noted that currently, the Lagos State Building Control Agency has begun clearing illegal structures serving as obstructions in markets particularly to reduce time wastage when it comes to emergency responses.
The NEMA official stressed the importance of conducting regular fire drills in homes and markets.
He said, “We along with other bodies like the Fire Service as well as insurance companies have appealed to these marketers to enlighten people and train representatives on fire management but they hardly seem interested.
“These drills are meant test real-life scenarios, checking the effectiveness of evacuation plans and emergency response strategies. Practicing these drills enhances the preparedness of occupants and ensures a coordinated response during a real fire emergency.”
He encouraged communities to prioritize these measures and others such as putting off electrical devices before leaving homes or after the close of business and shying away from dangerous environmental practice like bush burning.
“Preparedness, education, and collective responsibility are key to mitigating fire risks and ensuring the safety of homes and businesses,” he concluded.