“Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”—Cassius in Julius Caesar
The complexities of life have consistently been altered by men either by accidents or intentionally for the benefits and at times detriment of men and the society. Unfortunately, every challenge has always been attributed to providence or divine design while shying away from what men in their kindness and evil ventures had manipulated life to be.
The fact remains sacrosanct as exclaimed by Cassius in Julius Caesar that “men are some time the architect of their fortunes and misfortunes”.
Inferno epidemic is undoubtedly a global phenomenon but Nigeria ranks high among the major developing states that experience regular fire outbreaks especially in its oil and gas industry.
Fire outbreak is never a pleasant incident. It is better imagined than experienced. When fire breaks out, there are serious problems for the residents of the area and owners of particular property as extinguishing fire is never a child’s play. The number of lives and properties lost in these avoidable outbreaks annually cannot be overemphasized.
Of late, fire outbreaks have reduced several major industries in Nigeria to rubble, thereby fostering untold hardship to people who were caught in the cross fire.
In Lagos alone “properties worth over N54 billion were lost in three (3) years (between 2013 to 2015) according fire service” as reported by Vanguard on January 20, 2015.
The Nnewi fire caused by gas explosion took countless lives and saw property worth millions of Naira destroyed. Gas leakage can be experienced in any property no matter if it’s an old or a new one. When gas is leaking through the pipes no matter if it is in your kitchen area or any other part where gas is being used for cooking or related purposes, a single matchstick can blow the entire place up.
Speaking recently on the inferno explosion that occurred in a fruits market in Gombe State, the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, while condoling the victims of the accident said the federal government would deepen collaboration with states towards finding lasting solution to the problem.
According to him, the synergy was to involve industrialists and representatives of traders in the country to build a platform for safety procedures, retool the nation’s fire service response mechanism at various levels and safety measures, and also to adhere strictly to international fire codes.
Ironically, despite federal government’s announcements of its intention to curtail the wide spread of this menace, its reoccurences continued to increase on daily basis without any obvious consertive efforts by government, organizations and other stakeholders to put this ugly incidence to eternal rest.
The reasons for the incessant increase in the epidemic range from militancy, insurgency, criminality cum, illegal dealings, technical failure, security porosity, poor operational procedures and ethics, non-compliance attitude to rules and absence of standard safety equipments.
Stemming from the above is the contributions of cigarette smoking which has accounted for so many infernos. When a lighted cigarette makes contact with something flammable, it holds the power to set an entire industrial buildings or houses on fire.
Government banned public smoking in Nigeria but unfortunately the law suffers enforcement as many people still smoke in public without recourse to the law that placed the ban on it. The most appalling is the Calabar fire incident that claimed about 30 lives last week due to alleged illegal activities by oil dealers around Esuk Utan community. The inferno was said to have been ignited by an act of cigarette smoking.
At this point, it becomes imperative to set up measures that will prevent these ghastly fire outbreaks from reoccurring or try to learn how to stop the fire before it gets to the important assets of one’s property. In order to achieve this, one must be polished with common causes of fire outbreak.
It is also time we realize our habits can damage our homes, community and the entire nation as well as our neighbours. Since cigarette smoking, gas leakage or electric equipment over-heating and other things that can go up in flames in our homes has been identified as causes of these recent fire incidents, then we must be proactive in arresting this unpleasant situation to stop the human suffering occasioned by the fire incidents which are widespread in our society today.
Oil, gas and other industrial workers should be made to undergo regular trainings and seminars on fire preventions and safety measures.
With this, the great revolution towards fire prevention may have just started and from there we move forward.
By Oyeniyi Iwakun