An estimated GH¢25 million worth of properties were lost to fire outbreaks in the first six months of this year, a decrease of about 70 percent over the 2016 figure of GH¢86million for the same period, according to data from the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS).
Also, a total of 3,039 cases were recorded over the period, which was a 22percent drop from the same year period 2016 figure of 3,886.
Over the last few years, the country has experienced high cases of fire outbreaks, resulting in massive losses, especially at market centres and sensitive state institutions like the Tema Central Medical Stores and the Foreign Affairs building in Accra.
For instance, from 2011 to 2016, over GH¢170 million worth of properties were damaged by fire throughout the ten regions of the country.
Prince Anaglate, Public Relations Officer of the GNFS, attributed the drastic reversal of the situation—looking at this year’s figures—to fire prevention measures put in place by the Fire Service, as well as increased awareness creation.
He said: “About three or four years ago, we were having these market fires every day and several measures were taken, where we had to form market fire safety teams to be assigned 24/7 to the market centres. We have also deployed market patrol teams, who patrol the markets and the community to detect potential dangers.
“Apart from that, we now send teams to mosques and churches to teach fire prevention and safety and also embark oninspection and subsequent closureof premises and fuel filling stations that flout fire safety regulations.”
The half-year data from the GNFS further also showed that 131 lives were lost to fire outbreaks while 547 others sustained various degrees of injuries.
In terms of regional breakdown, the Greater Accra Region recorded the highest figure of 522 cases, followed by Ashanti Region’s 542, as well as 294 and287 for Central and Eastern regions respectively.
The rest were: Brong Ahafo Region, 284; Western Region, 243; Northern Region, 201; Upper East Region, 145; Volta Region, 146; and Upper West Region, 64.
The GNFS data show that domestic, vehicular and electrical fires accounted for more than two-thirds of all fire outbreaks within the first six months of the year.
Although it appears the preventive measures put in place by the GNFS seem to be yielding results, Mr. Anaglate believes that the Service could drastically reduce the frequency and damages, as well as save lives, if it is given the needed logistical support.
“We would have reduced it further than this, but unfortunately, our operation is still beingfrustrated by a number of challenges. The public is not readily available and a lot of people are not willing to change their attitude towards fire safety.
We keep talking about lack of water hydrants. The Fire Service depends largely on water from the hydrants to fight fires, but there are instances we would get into some communities and the hydrants are not there.
Logistically, things have not changed in terms of the retooling of the Service, but the government has expressed its commitment and promised that very soon it will give us some of the equipment we need,” he added.
Among other things, he disclosed that the Service is to soon launch a National Anti-bush Fire campaign that would be used to sensitise the public on causes and prevention of bush fires, especially as the harmattan season approaches.