Editorial Comment: Keeping a tab on fires

Fire engulfs the A. Gafoor shop in Rakiraki Town. Picture: ANISH CHAND

The revelation that 14 people are homeless today after a fire destroyed their extended family house in Vugele, Vatukoula, yesterday, is a concern.

Reports suggest three families were living in the home which had 18 rooms.

When interviewed, Pundit Vishal Maharaj said three generations of their families had been living there.

They lost all their belongings. He estimated losses to be around $350,000.

The fire, he said, started about 7.30am when only the elderly and women were at home.

He pleaded for support. In the face of that report, we learn that the National Fire Authority acknowledged that water pressure in fire hydrants in Rakiraki Town was too low for officers to fight a blaze that destroyed three buildings on Monday.

NFA chief executive officer Puamau Sowane said it was important to understand that a fire truck holds a tank capacity of 2000 litres and with the output rate of 125 litres per minute at 700kpa, the total tank capacity, he said, was discharged within 16 minutes.

While they were able to connect to the hydrant supply, he said it was unfortunate that the water supply pressure at the time was too low and inadequate to support the fire crew’s efforts to extinguish the fire. He thanked stakeholders in Rakiraki for assisting the NFA.

Again, as police investigations continue to determine the cause, we are reminded about fire safety. We are reminded about the importance of adhering to fire safety tips. We are reminded about why fire safety is important and why everyone at home must be aware of danger spots, and evacuation exercises.

Whatever the topic… whether it is on road safety, water safety or fire safety, accidents happen because we allow them to.

Accidents can be prevented though. But that means we must be proactive, and vigilant.

It means being aware, and understanding fire safety tips in this case. It means keeping abreast of developments in fire safety. Police have always urged homeowners to be vigilant. We keep saying people should be proactive and vigilant. We say this every time a fire destroys a home.

We are emotional when deaths occur, so we raise the issue of fire safety. We must rise above complacency and be catalysts for change. Let’s discuss this issue. Let’s address it at all levels of society. We must pay attention to detail and do the little things that aid in fire safety.

Let’s be aware of danger spots, from cooking areas, where we keep mosquito coils, to how we use electrical appliances. Let’s be mindful of electrical wiring in our homes, and get qualified electricians involved. Let’s understand and be aware of hot spots in our homes.

Be aware of contingency plans in the face of disaster. Work out escape routes and what to do when there is a fire.

Every member of the home should be aware of this. We feel for those affected at this moment.

We remind ourselves that we are in the midst of a global pandemic which is taking a swipe at our economy.

We are still recovering from Tropical Cyclone Harold, and we have dengue fever and leptospirosis to contend with.

Let’s stay safe.

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