Experts blame building fire incidents on low safety standards
Safety and fire management experts have blamed the high rate of fire incidences in domestic and commercial buildings on low safety standards and use of poor quality electrical products.
At a safety roundtable organised by power management company, Eaton, on ‘Enhancing electrical safety in buildings’, experts noted that the statistics of fire incidences in the country had become alarming, even though the numbers were under-documented.
A Senior Safety Officer with the Lagos State Fire Service, Temitayo Awosanya, said there was a need for more enlightenment on how to prevent fire in homes.
According to him, carelessness is the major cause of fire outbreak in houses and accounts for at least 75 per cent of the recorded cases.
Other causes, he noted, were the use of substandard products, lack of technical know-how, and careless handling of flammable liquids.
“Fire safety is an important topic and everyone must be enlightened. Every environment is not the same, so everyone needs the input of professionals. It is not enough to just buy fire extinguisher. Fire is a friend; but when it gets out of hand, it becomes your enemy. What you do before the fire occur is very important,” Awosanya stated.
The Principal Partner, JOJO and Partners, an electrical, mechanical and telecommunications engineering consulting firm, Mr. Tunde Olukoya, stated that safety had become a big issue in the country and that fire incidences were not being properly documented.
“In as much as we see safety as important, our disposition is such that we do not pay attention to the consequences. Accidents can happen anytime but it has been all talks and no action. We have to work the talk,” he said.
The Director of Safety Training and Education, Lagos State Safety Commission, Mr. Adebyi Adeyinka, said the commission had discovered that facilities were getting burnt frequently because most electricians were not well trained, adding that lack of skills was leading to wrong use of equipment.
“Most connections and products used are also substandard but fire incidences related to electricity have reduced since we started training electricians. We also continuously conduct safety audits of building,” he said.
According to the International Sales Manager, Fire Systems, Eaton, Andy Souten, builders spend more money on the aesthetics of a building to the detriment of the electrical installations.
He stated that there was a need for the government to enforce more regulations on fire safety.
The Managing Director, Nigerian Electricity Management Service Agency, Mr. Peter Ewesor, said the government had always put rules and regulations on electrifying buildings in place but that compliance had been low.
“We need to follow best practices which include checking on installations every five to 10 years to ensure they are working optimally,” he said.
Eaton’s Marketing Director for Africa, Sumaya Abdool, said the topic of fire safety had become critical to the company and to the lives of everyone.
“We believe in leaving a greener future for the generation coming through our products, which are safe, efficient and reliable solutions,” she added.
The Regional Manager, Eaton West Africa, Charles Iyo, said incidences of electrical fire were a growing concern everywhere in the world and one of the major causes of injuries, loss of property and even death.
“As stakeholders, it’s important that we begin to take more than a cursory look at fire safety measures right from the planning to the completion stage,” he said.