Fire outbreaks from January to June this year increased across the country compared to the same period last year, resulting in the loss of 88 lives and 199 injuries nationwide.
Figures from the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) indicated that 3,282 fires were recorded for the first half of the year as against 3,102 cases within the same period in 2017, representing an increase of 180 cases.
The Greater Accra Region topped with 640 fires, compared to 542 last year followed by the Ashanti Region with 629, whereas 522 cases were recorded within the same period last year.
The Central Region has so far registered 404 cases this year compared to the 294 cases reported last year.
The Upper West Region has also recorded 66 fires this year as against 64 cases last year.
The causes of fire outbreaks have been categorised into domestic, industrial, vehicular, institutional, electrical, commercial, bush fires and others.
During the period under review, there were 81 industrial fires compared to 78 last year. Bush fires increased from 463 last year to 798.
Divisional Officer II Ellis Robinson Okoe of the Public Relations Department of the GNFS, blamed the increasing spate of fire outbreaks to the disregard of fire safety rules.
He mentioned the overloading of electrical sockets, improper and careless use of LPG gas, improper handling of flammable liquids, open electrical gadgets in homes and offices, among others, as the main causes of fire outbreaks.
He stated that as part of measures to control market fires, personnel of the GNFS had been deployed to all the markets to educate traders on fire safety so as to protect lives and property.
He indicated that some of the market women had been appointed and trained as “market queens” to take up the responsibility of ensuring safety in the markets.
DO II Okoe also mentioned that fire officers had been assigned to both secondary and junior high schools in the various regions to educate them on fire safety precautions.
He recommended that institutions and organisations should review their safety rules to ensure strict adherence to safety regulations.
DO II Okoe mentioned the lack of adequate water hydrants and water sources, inadequate funds for fire safety activities, vehicles for metropolitan, municipal and district fire offices as some of the challenges the service faced.
He also identified another challenge as the non-cooperative attitude of some members of the public, especially property owners, towards fire safety regulations.
Call for support
He, however, said the government had made some funds available for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPES) and rent allowances for personnel who did not have accommodation to rent apartments and some people had already benefitted from local and overseas training.
He appealed for support from non-governmental organisations and corporate bodies.