The Rwanda National Police (RNP) Fire and Rescue Brigade (FRB), on Thursday, extended fire safety training to hundreds of traders and artisans at Agakiriro market in Gisozi, Gasabo District.
The training is designed as practical preparation for citizens to have basic fire prevention knowledge and equipped with know-how on what to do just in case of a fire outbreak.
Agakiriro of Gisozi, on a normal day, is a beehive of activities ranging from timber and metallic materials trade with thousands of artisans, timber traders and buyers flocking one of the biggest artisan markets in the country.
This congestion and lack of knowledge and skills on fire safety have in some cases resulted in fire disasters.
In the past two months alone, the market has experienced two fire incidents; in June and July, gutting scores of furniture enterprises, causing losses to traders and others phasing out of business as many did not have fire insurance coverage.
Speaking to hundreds of people at the market, who include welders and carpenters, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Jean Baptiste Seminega, the Commanding Officer (CO) for FRB, explained that most fire outbreaks are often sparked by “reckless human behaviour” such as dropping lit cigarette filters on dry or combustible materials.
He cited timber husks and flammable liquids like oil spills as dangerous materials that exacerbate fire quickly.
Seminega addresses traders in Agakiriro Market in Gisozi as other firefighters look on. Businesses here have lost hundreds of francs to back to backfires.
Seminega noted that the existence of fire outbreaks in homes and public places prompted Police to take extra steps towards awareness, educating and preparing theory and practical fire emergencies.
“These drills teach traders, private security personnel and many other groups of people on safety precaution, how to react and behave when a fire emergency occurs with basic techniques to ensure safe evacuation,” he explained.
He also warned that the use of substandard and poor installation of electrical cables as well as the use of lay electricians is dangerous and should be avoided.
Seminega asked traders to ensure collective and individual responsibility and accountability in protecting their merchandise from fire.
“Take these drills seriously; these are practical guidelines on how to prevent fires and preparations on what to do should fire break out,” Seminega told traders.
“We urge you to invest in firefighting and detection equipment, but focus more on preventive measures… every commercial building must have a water hydrant and install fire alarms in your facilities.”
Traders and casual workers at the market were given skills on how to use different firefighting gadgets in case of fire.
Seminega said that similar training, in the next month, will also be extended to hundreds of other people in 15 selected public places, with potential fire outbreak risks. They include health facilities, universities, public offices, markets, commercial institutions and hotels.
Since January this year, FRB has extended fire safety skills to over 2400 people majority of them in areas that accommodate many people on a day-to-day basis.
Statistics indicate that 56 fires incidents were recorded countrywide between January and July this year, claiming seven lives and injuring two other people. Majority of the incidents occurred in the City of Kigali. At least 72 cases of fire outbreak were recorded in the same period, last year.
Seminega called upon the public to always call the RNP Fire and Rescue services on toll-free line 111, 112 and 0788311120, in case of a fire outbreak, for a quick response.