Ghana — Properties estimated at about GHc166,579,991,008 were destroyed in 258 fire outbreaks recorded in the Sunyani Municipality from January 2008 to December 2011.
Station Officer Grade One Sulemana Aryee, Municipal Rural Fire Education Coordinator of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), told the GNA in an interview on Thursday the fires caused huge loses.
The losses were on domestic, bush, car, saw dust, institutional, electrical and commercial fire outbreaks, not taking into account those that had not been recorded.
Mr. Aryee reminded residents the Municipal Assembly bye-law on fire outbreaks was still in force and culprits when caught would pay a GHc50 penalty or in default serve a prison term not exceeding six months or both.
He said in addition, culprits would also perform communal work for two weeks and added that whoever caused damage to property as a result of fire would not be immune to civil action by the owner of the property involved.
Mr. Aryee expressed concern about the delay in prosecuting perpetrators of fire outbreaks, which he said demoralized their efforts in fire fighting in the municipality.
He said the Sunyani municipal office of the GNFS had intensified a house-to-house education on the causes and effects of fire outbreaks and also to sensitize residents on penalties for culprits of fire outbreaks under the law.
Mr. Aryee however advised households to support the exercise by giving audience to fire officials.
He said to make the public education lively, the GNFS had collaborated with the Information Services Department to screen films in communities like Dumasua, Kantro, Addaiboriso, Wawasua and Kwamekrakrom, which are noted for annual fire outbreaks.
Mr. Aryee advised the Municipal and District Assemblies to re-activate their bushfire control sub-committees and provide them with logistics to enable them to work up to expectation.
Mr. Atta Yeboah, Principal Disaster Control Officer at the Brong-Ahafo Regional secretariat of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) explained that NADMO was not a relief but rather disaster prevention organisation.
He said since Ghana was committed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (goal seven) of ensuring environmental sustainability, there was the need for all stakeholders to support in controlling fire outbreaks to achieve the set target by 2015.
Mr. Yeboah commended the Jaman North, Jaman South and Nkoranza North district assemblies for their support in fire fighting and appealed to the other assemblies in the Region to emulate.
The principal disaster control officer said NADMO was in need of vehicles and called on the government and NGOs to come to their aid.
Mr. Yeboah gave the assurance that NADMO would continue to collaborate with the GNFS, and entreated the media to also support in disaster prevention and management.