Every year, Nigerian government and people continue to record high loses as a result of fire disasters. Reacting to the worrisome statistics on fire outbreak in the country,
experts express concerns over the development and call on stakeholders to pay more attention to it, writes


Every year, critical sectors
of the nation’s economy and
infrastructure are consumed by
fire leaving in their trail huge
economic loses to individuals
and the nation at large. About
80 percent of the lose that
emanates from fire outbreak
is said to occur in residential
Apart from several airborne
diseases that come with dry
and windy period, it is also
characterised by wild fire
outbreaks. Thus, more lives
and property are usually lost
to inferno during harmattan
period than in any other season.
The harmattan danger usually
runs from the months of October
to March; however, it may vary
due to local conditions. Fire
outbreaks, especially bush fires,
are more likely to spread and
cause damage on days when
the weather is very dry and
windy which are characteristics
of the harmattan season in
the country. As a result of this
extreme weather condition,
caution is required during
the period to reduce the risk
that result in killing persons,
damaging and destroying
properties and environment.
While Nigerians already
have the problem of insecurity
to contend with, the uprising
of other natural disasters also
threatens lives and property
of the citizens ranging from
floods and fire outbreak which
have become major source of
Year 2012 alone, the number
of razed buildings and property
by fire are incalculable, the
highest ever recorded so far.
According to Mr. Chike Njoku,
the command’s Public Relations
Office, PRO, of Federal Fire
Service, Lagos State Command
hinted that in December alone,
states recorded 27 incidents
of fire outbreaks, the highest
in one month during the year
within the Lagos metropolis.
“Many people were so carefree
about their safety during the
yuletide,” Njoku said.
He also attributed the
causes of the fire, included
fireworks, candle light, storage
of petroleum product wrongly,
electricity spark and other
human carelessness. This
was blamed on fuel scarcity
experienced during the year.
“We attended to more fire
incidents in 2012 than the
previous year, particularly
toward the end of the year.
The fire incidents happened in
private homes, public buildings,
warehouses, sawmills and fuel
tankers,” he said.
The fire explosion that
rocked the heart of Lagos on
Boxing Day killing one person
and destroying over a dozen
houses was heartbreaking. The
following day, news broke that
part of the country home of
former president, Chief Olusegun
Obasanjo, was gutted by fire.
The same day, Federal Radio
Corporation of Nigeria got burnt.
Since then, more fire disasters
have occurred. For instances, fire
outbreak happened at Ogun State
Government Secretariat, Abeokuta;
INEC office in Abuja; Feleye
Market, Ibadan; NNPC Mega
Station; NTA station Abakiliki in
Ebonyi State destroying media
equipment worth over five million
naira, Bashorun-Akobo area,
Ibadan; Oko-Baba Shanties, Lagos;
the palace of the Alaafin of Oyo,
Oyo State; the Ogbomoso tanker
fire, and most recently the Arepo
explosion that killed scores of
petrol pipeline vandals.
Beyond doubt, this fire disaster
is worrisome because of its
adverse effect it has on human and
economic development. The cost
and pain of the of fire incidents is
generally unbearable. It leads to
pains and death of victims, money
and materials, and damage to
equipment and structures. The
causes these disasters are both
natural disaster and man made.
The statistics for the year ended
2012 coming from various states
in the federation has depicted the
socio- economic lose which is quite
alarming. In Rivers State alone, the
state government has announced
that 73 persons suffered different
degrees of injuries and that at least
230 persons lost their lives in 222
fire incidents in the state. Another
statement from the Oyo State Fire
Service Department indicated
that about N1 billion worth of
Fire Service Commission about
the danger associated with them.
In many homes today, people still
store explosive devices such as fuel
at home carelessly.
According to Engr. A. E. Okeke
(Comptroller) Policy Inspectorate
& Regulatory Departmen, Federal
Fire Service Headquarters, Abuja,
with fire fighters alone, it will
be difficult to combat the effect.
He therefore urged the public to
imbibe the safety consciousness.
For instance, extension cords
should not be placed under
rugs or looped over nails or
tacked to walls; sufficient space
should be provided around heatgenerating
home appliances;
electrical outlets or extension
cords should not be overloaded;
always make sure the stove top is
clean as residue grease can catch
fire. Flammable liquids should
not be stored in any other thing
other than labeled, tightly sealed
metal or plastic containers and
many others.
Curbing the menace of
hamattan fire involves everyone
from the individual to fire
authorities at the community or
local government levels, up to
the state and federal levels. All of
which must get involved in a mix
of actions strategies to minimize
the potential for hamattan fire
to affect lives, property and the
Fire prevention and
preparedness is more than
just firefighting and hazard
reduction, although these are
important elements. It involves
a risk planning process which
includes identifying assets within
a community at risk of hamattan
fires, assessing that risk and
developing specific strategies to
deal with those risks.
Experts have called for
the need for government to
strengthen and enforce strictly
all existing laws on safety with a
view to achieving a safer society.
Similarly, those who breach laws
should be brought to book and
punished accordingly.
property were destroyed and a
total of 38 people were killed in 607
fire incidents across the State last
year. While Bauchi acting director,
Babayo Umar Misau, hinted that
81 lives were lost in Bauchi fire
disaster that occurred in different
part of Bauchi. He also added
that 296 calls received in the year
under review properties worth
over N209million destroyed. In
just the first two weeks of 2013,
the Department has received 46
distress calls over fire disasters in
different parts of the state in which
3 persons were killed.
It is amazing that upon all these
disasters, Nigerians have not
cultivated the culture of safety, but
have swallowed by greater level
of negligence which is termed the
number one cause of the outbreak
in the menu of the causes. On the
other hands, the agencies saddled
with the safety of live and property
seem not to be prepared to prevent
the ugly incidents, rather prefer
Most of the fire outbreaks in
Nigeria are caused by human
negligence. There are some little
habits that could spark fire at
homes or offices. Some people
have the habit of leaving their
offices without unplugging all the
electrical appliances which are
capable of sparking off in an event
of fluctuation in of electric current.
At home, families are not taking
precautionary measures to reduce
the risk of fire outbreaks. The use of
matches and candles are still found
within the reach of children despite
repeated warnings of the Federal

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