Secure your facility, save lives; Individual responsibility key to preventing fire outbreak

For some time now, a number of people have been affected by “fire outbreak,” directly or indirectly. Property worth billions including houses and even lives, have been lost in these preventable incidents.

Fire happens in cities and destroys homes, the latest being schools.

Last year, a total of 84 fire outbreak cases were recorded in the country, with 33 of them labeled as “serious,” according to statistics from the Rwanda National Police Fire and Rescue Unit.

Majority of these incidents happened in Kigali and were caused by short-circuit.

Since last year, 120 cases of fire outbreak have been registered in the country, majority of them caused by short circuit.

Investigations indicate that electricity installations in these affected facilities were either sub-standard, outdated or were badly installed, most likely, by lay-professionals.

Welding works, candles and charcoal stoves are other contributors of fire outbreak.

Property valued in billions have been lost, not to mention manpower lost in form of lives, including two kids who perished on March 15 this year, when the house they were in, in Niboye Sector of Kicukiro District, was gutted by fire, apparently caused by a candle.

Beware of substandard electrical cables on the market. The Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) issued a communiqué in 2011, to alert importers, traders and end users of the requirements for electrical cables of cross-section area between 1.5mm2 to 6mm2.  

The insulated conductors have to be made of “Copper only.”

Substandard cables seized from the market or installed in some of the affected facilities had conductors made mainly of Aluminum with a thin coating of copper material around the Aluminum conductor. Sometimes traders use these tactics to cheat customers. Don’t fall prey of this.

Examine electrical wiring in your house, especially if it is an older one; damaged electrical wiring pose danger to fire outbreak.

Install fire-fighting equipment like fire extinguishers and smoke alarms; keep kitchen towels and oven mitts away from stoves while cooking; don’t leave a candle burning in the house; let all members of the house learn fire-fighting techniques.

Knowing and understanding some of the factors that could lead to these out breaks, is important in preventing them;

Electricity: It is important we realize that electricity is a leading cause of fire outbreaks. A good knowledge on how to handle and/or use electricity or electrical appliances at home is therefore necessary. Turning off appliances after use and removing plugs is important. Regular inspection of electrical circuits in your home will help you to rectify faults beforehand. These are simple things that we tend to overlook. But as simple as they are, damages that could result from their misuse are better imagined than experienced.

Also, unsafe electrical conditions that can be fire hazards include damaged electrical conductors, overloaded sockets and extension cords, faulty wirings, blown fuses, low quality electrical equipment, malfunction of electrical devices and loose electrical connections. To avoid electrical fires, use only high quality electrical equipments.

Gas leakage: As it is with electricity and electrical appliances, misuse of gas cookers could be fatal. Gas is highly inflammable so it should be handled with profound care. As a precaution, turn off gas when not in use. Mend gas leakages when you notice any. If the leakages are beyond what you can handle, then call the police fire fighting department. A stitch in time, as the saying goes, saves nine.

Cigarette: Never attempt to light cigarette in highly sensitive locations such as gas stations etc. Cigarettes, as small as they are, can bring down a big building. That’s why is quite necessary, if not compulsory for smokers not to light cigarettes wherever there are such directives. It is bad enough that you are endangering your health with smoking but it is even worse that this activity can cause a fire tragedy that can result in deaths, injuries, and damages to properties.

Kitchen cooking: The kitchen is one of the parts of the house where a fire usually starts,as it was the case at New Bandal bar in at Remera. This is because cooking involves the use of flames and flammable materials such as oil and gas. Because of this, it is necessary to always practice caution whenever you are inside the kitchen. Aside from that, never leave cooking pots and pans unattended even for a short while. If you need to leave the room to answer the phone or get the door, turn off the stove first.

Inflammables: All disused inflammable materials in homes, offices, schools etc should be trashed as doing so can minimize the magnitude of fire if it occurs.
Fire out breaks may still occur even if we follow the best experts’ advice because no measure is 100% full proof. But nevertheless, diligently following such procedures could help minimize the rate of fire incidences. Individual’s can also learn and educate themselves about fire fighting techniques, but as always, prevention is even more crucial.

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