It is on record that the discovery of fire by mankind heralded the dawn of human socialization. Fire provided people a source of warmth, lighting and protection from predators at night. It enabled the creation of more advanced hunting tools and the cooking of food. Creating fire allowed human activity to continue into the dark and colder hours of the night thus prolonging time for work and productivity.
Fire enabled transfer of knowledge through folklore as elders unleashed their imaginations and told stories to the younger ones by the night campfire.
However, when not controlled, fire can cause great destruction and injury to humans and the entire ecosystem. Fire outbreak has remained a major disaster in Nigeria and the world over. In the recent past, many lives and properties worth billions of Naira were lost to uncontrolled fires across the nation. In addition to loss of lives and properties there are incalculable indirect fiscal loses due to collapse of investments, diminished property value and loss of business incomes.
The onset of the dry season characterized with typical harmattan winds with little or no moisture content coupled with abundance of dry combustible matter in form of dry vegetation and agricultural wastes constitute a strong driver to fire outbreaks.
While there is no one single pattern of when and how fire outbreaks may occur, experience has proved that the rate of occurrence and intensity of damage and losses are more rampant during the dry season, between December and March each year. Devastating fire inferno could occur in homes, schools, markets, factories, farms and several other work and recreation places.
The best firefighting technique is prevention. The best way to prevent a fire is to create awareness and develop a culture of safety consciousness among authorities, communities and individuals.
As part of our responsibility to save lives and safeguard properties, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) deemed it necessary to call on all stakeholders including State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs), Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs), all tiers of governments, Fire Services, Health Services, Security Agencies, Rescue Services, Communities, NGOs, CBOs, Schools, Markets, Factories and the media to help generate and disseminate the right awareness and prepare the public for necessary responses to fire disasters. Effort should aim at measures and procedures for averting fire outbreaks, early detection and timely response to save lives and minimize economic loses.
All hands must to be on deck to reduce fire disasters and all associated human and material loses across Nigeria and beyond. Government agencies, corporate organizations, private businesses and individuals should endeavor to leverage on insurance companies to safeguard and protect their properties and businesses as a form of risk transfer in case of fire and other unforeseen disaster incidences. The main goal of NEMA and its partners is to save lives and properties and no effort and resources committed is too much or too little in this regards.
Thank you all and God Bless.
Mustapha Habib Ahmed
Director General, NEMA
15th December 2022