There could be more outbreaks of fire in big commercial centres and marketplaces if urgent steps are not taken to implement the Makola Market Report of 1993, an assistant divisional fire officer has warned.
Mr Prince Anaglate, who is also the Public Relations Officer of the Tema branch of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), said the Makola Investigative Report of 1993 directed the city authorities to provide firefighting equipment including early fire detection and warning systems, fire extinguishers, hose reels and landing valves to help detect and facilitate the initial fighting of fires when they break out before the arrival of fire personnel.
It also recommended that a fire post be constructed in the market or fire wardens made to provide 24-hour service at the commercial centres to serve as a first line of defence in case of any fire outbreak.
The markets were also required to have adequate exit points to ensure the smooth evacuation and accessibility by emergency workers.
Mr Anaglate said the report gave clear instructions as to how the markets should be designed and to include alleys that could be used by fire engines and to serve as fire belts to confine the fire to its original location.
It further directed that water hydrants be provided within the markets to provide uninterrupted water supply.
But 15 years after the submission of the report, the recommendations have not been implemented in most markets across the country.
In the last two weeks, serious cases of fire have been recorded at two major markets in Accra — the Kantamanto and Konkomba, bringing in its wake enormous destruction of goods and structures.
The intensity of the fires, Mr Anaglate said, could have been minimised with the appropriate firefighting equipment installed in those markets as recommended in the report that was issued after a Makola fire in 1993.
Mr Anaglate described as unfortunate the fact that market fires had been accepted as one of the annual rituals in Ghana.
A portion of the recommendation, he said, was implemented at the Makola Shopping Mall. The authorities provided early fire detection and warning system with some firefighting equipment such as hose reels and landing valves.
“The installed fire detection and firefighting equipment at the mall has turned out to be nothing but a white elephant for lack of servicing.”
To make the equipment effective, Mr Anaglate said, the authorities must have them serviced every six months but this was not being done.
Recounting what happened during the first Makola fire outbreak, which culminated in the investigative report and the recommendations, Mr Anaglate, who was then with the Accra City Fire Service, said when the service personnel arrived at the scene of the fire in less than three minutes after the fire was reported by a watchman of the market, it was observed that the entire southern part of the market was completely engulfed in the fire with some structures that could not stand the ferocity of the fire collapsing.
That, he said, gave the impression that the fire had started long before it was reported to the service.
“A fire detection gadget could have prevented the fire from escalating,“ he said.
Mr Anaglate said a detailed investigation was conducted, which made several recommendations but “unfortunately the recommendations are yet to be implemented leading to the several other fires in other markets”.
Story by Naa Lamiley Bentil