The Vice President of Fire Protection Association of Nigeria, Mr Dominic Aigbogun, has identified human factor as a major cause of fire incidents in the country.
He spoke against the backdrop of a recent fire incident at a popular Edo shopping mall in which billions of naira worth of goods was reportedly destroyed.
Aigbogun, who is a board member of Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPoN), made this known in an interview with Safety Record Newspaper on December 15.
Despite the presence of fire prevention techniques for years, he said, there was no lasting solution to the problem of fire incidents because of frailty of human nature.
“There cannot be a lasting solution because it depends on human factors. Human beings cause fire outbreak one way or the other and therefore with differences in level of understanding, fire will break out.
“This can be due to neglect or to human failing. I think that is the major thing. If not, fire prevention has been on before my grandfather was born and yet fires are still occurring.
“But if we would imbibe discipline and not engage in an unsafe act creating unsafe conditions, there will be no fire.”
Recall that a December 11 fire gutted popular shopping mall, Phill-Hallmark Supermarket in Oredo local government area of Edo state.
The fire was said to have started around 2am when only few of the mall’s over 50 staff were present and was not put off until 11.30am, when it had done maximum damage.
The mall, the biggest in Benin City, houses a bakery, food and beverages store, home appliances section and boutique, on its four floors.
The four floors, including an extension used as an administrative building, were razed in the incident.
However, no life was lost in the incident.
According to reports, the mall had been newly renovated when the fire incident occurred, and it took a combined team of firemen from the Nigerian Airforce and University of Benin to put it out, nine hours after.
The Managing Director of the mall, Mr Philip Edigin, said repeated efforts to get the state fire service did not yield any fruit as an unnamed official told him there was no diesel to power the fire trucks.
Edigin, who said the fire started around midnight, noted that help later came from Nigerian Airforce fire service, IDSL NPDC and UNIBEN before the state fire service showed up around 6am.
The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, in an assessment tour on the day of the incident, ordered an investigation into the remote and immediate causes of the incident and state fire service’s level of response.
He described the incident as a catastrophe and a major disaster.
The governor said, “This incident happening at this time of the year is a catastrophe. I have asked for a written report and investigation into the cause of the fire.
“We will also investigate the claim by an official of the state fire service on the allegation of lack of equipment because I understand that trucks were distributed by the NDDC and the state government during the last administration.”
“Because I understand that trucks were distributed by the NDDC and the State Government during the last administration”.
Obaseki also said that to avert future fire disasters in super marts and vehicles, all of them would henceforth be made to have fire extinguishers.
As at the time of filling this report a panel of enquiry has not been constituted.