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Halt The Fire Menace
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Disasters of all forms have been taking a toll on our national development endeavours in recent times.

These disasters range from rainstorms, floods and fire outbreaks that destroy lives and properties and thereby impose severe hardships on the victims.

Some other calamities, such as collapsing buildings, derailments, road accidents and communal violence, have compounded the development challenges of our societies.

At the same time there is an upsurge in road accidents, claiming many lives and causing destruction to properties, while fire outbreaks are also doing damage to very important buildings in the country.

This year fire has damaged markets, residential properties, offices and commercial buildings, leaving many people jobless and losing their means of livelihoods.

A few years ago fire gutted many important buildings in Accra, the major ones that have remained in the minds of the people being the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building and the residence of former President J.J. Rawlings.

It is sad that the authorities, particularly the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), have not been able to determine the causes of the fire, although they have cited electrical fault as the immediate cause of the disasters.

Every fire outbreak has caused pain and anguish to its victims, but the spectacle at the scene of fire disasters in our markets always moves even the most hard-hearted.

The statistics are not immediately available on the total cost of damage to lives and properties caused by fire. Some level of data is out there in the public domain but because all the facts are not available, we are not moved to act dispassionately to prevent the avoidable fires.

The public verdict on the GNFS during an outbreak of fire is not complimentary at all. Members of the public do not have confidence in the ability of the GNFS to bring blazing fires under control.

On some occasions, fire engines have arrived at fire scenes without water and when these engines have run out of water firemen are unable to find functional water hydrants.

Admittedly, the GNFS has undergone some amount of re-tooling to put the service in a position to deal with emergency support to the people. However, it is important for it to enforce fire regulations, so that all developers will meet the fire safety standards outlined in our laws.

It sounds ridiculous, but there are many notable structures in the country without simple fire extinguishers to fall on in the event of fire outbreaks.

The Daily Graphic has said before that the bane of our development is our utter disregard for laws. We are paying the ultimate price for our impunity, but we do not want to mend our ways.

The causes of fire outbreaks are difficult to determine, but everybody is blaming the recent fires on the ongoing power rationing exercise.

Tuesday, another major building in Accra housing the National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT), a computer training school, was destroyed by fire.

The NIIT is located on the third floor of the Abena Ateaa Towers which also houses many businesses and academic institutions that have been closed down.

We know the GNFS has begun investigations into the cause of the fire and so it is premature to apportion blame. We think the service should be allowed to carry out its work, but we call on it to tell Ghanaians the cause of fire to restore the confidence of the public in the service which was established to attend to fire emergencies.

It will be naive to think that fire outbreaks can become a thing of the past in our growing economy. Nonetheless, the GNFS can enforce the regulations that will compel all property owners to abide by fire safety standards.

The Daily Graphic will hold property owners accountable for their obligation to respect fire regulations, but we shall not spare the GNFS public scrutiny of its mandate to ensure that the personnel of the service live up to their calling.
Source: Daily Graphic/Editorial

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