Teary eyes. Cupped chin in the light-skinned chubby palm. Wondered how she could redeem her flamed Gh¢ 25,000 from the embers. A mother of three children. A shop owner. Middle-aged. Amidst sobs, she stuttered a few words. Upon prodding from onlookers, she finally opened up.
I stooped and commiserated with her. She budged for the interview. “I left home this morning after cooking for my three children. I turned off every gadget before leaving to bathe. I went to my shop and was later called that our house is in flames.
I came to see all my belongings burnt. My loan of GH¢15,000 and my personal money worth Gh¢10,000 which I left in the room have all been burnt”, distraught Berlinda Attoh reminisced.
This fire came up apparently due to the negligence of a neighbour who left a gas cylinder unattended. It was almost 10 am on Thursday, 8th December 2022.
Two of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) Tankers had parked. Firefighters moved frantically to trace the source of the fire. Police officers strolled the locality to nip any near-fisticuff in the bud. Pockets of onlookers gathered. They shared varied accounts of the fire that gutted one of the residences on the Oregon, Avenue, Adabraka in the regional capital. It is about two weeks to hit Yuletide. Tsikata, my colleague had taken a timely cutaway of the sea-blue coloured gas cylinder that had apparently spawned the ‘monster’.
Customers are expected to throng all supermarkets. There is a high proclivity to be overly excited about the festive season and be negligent, especially with electricity.
The rate at which, fire outbreaks are skyrocketing is becoming more crucial to discuss. Statistics from the GNFS reveal that it recorded 4,467 fire outbreaks between January and July across the country for the first half of 2022. Out of the total number, 444 road traffic collisions (RTC) were attended to and 107 rescue duties in the same period. January recorded 1,090 fire outbreaks, with bushfires rising to 432, while there were 317 domestic fires. In February, out of the 762 fire outbreaks that occurred, 239 cases were domestic, with bush fires at 224, with only four industrial fires. In March, there were 551 fire outbreaks, a decline of 211 from the previous month, representing 27.7 percent.
The highest category recorded in that month was domestic fires – 207, electrical and bush fires – 78 each, and three industrial fires. For April, there was a further decline of 81, representing 14.7 percent. The service recorded 470 fire outbreaks in that month, with domestic fires being the highest, with 184. Electrical fires were 111, with only one industrial fire. In May, there was a fall of seven, representing 1.4 percent. In all, there were 463 outbreaks, with 195 domestic fires, 85 electrical fires, and two industrial cases. In June, the number was further reduced by 116, representing 33.4 percent. There were 347 fires, out of which 148 were domestic, 82 electrical and two were industrial.
In the month of July, there were 351 outbreaks, with domestic fires accounting for 157 and commercial fires for 75.
For the quantum of cash that has been lost over the first half of the year, the GNFS recorded a whopping GH¢36,197 million.
The cost of salvage is over GH¢8 million. The figure is an increase over last year’s loss of GH¢24.2 million during the same period.
The GNFS said the destruction was from a total of 4, 467 fire outbreaks recorded nationwide for the first six months in 2022 as compared to 3,307 last year.
The efforts of the Service can be recommended in that, it is embarking on a national campaign to sensitize Ghanaians on how to deal with emergent fire outbreaks. On his part, the Assistant Chief Fire Officer 1 (ACFO1) Timothy Osafo-Affum who is the National Communications Director for GNFS, hinted that they have targeted by the middle of the month that, the 16 regions of the country to successfully launch the campaign. Again, I firmly believe that a chunk of the work to curtail the incidence of fires largely depends on the individual. According to the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the GNFS, Divisional Officer II Ellis Robinson Okoe, attributed the situation to disregard for fire safety rules. Mr. Okoe also explained the need to conduct basic general cleaning to clear all cobwebs and also tidy up homes to reduce materials that could serve as fuel during an outbreak. “Cobwebs are also another major cause of fire outbreaks. Any little flame that comes into contact with it can easily result in fire. I want to advise people to clear all cobwebs and dispose of unwanted clothing which also serves as fuel when there is an outbreak in our homes,” Mr. Okoe said.
Merry Christmas in advance, let us stay safe.