RNP Advises on Fire Outbreak Prevention

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Fire and Rescue Brigade, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Jean Baptiste Seminega

Police has called upon the general public to always take safety precautions against fire outbreaks, despite the decrease of fire incidents by 40 percent since the beginning of the year compared to the same period last year.

In an interview, Commanding Officer for the Rwanda National Police (RNP) Fire and Rescue Brigade, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Jean Baptiste Seminega, attributed the decrease to awareness campaigns that the police embarked on educating people on “safety standards.”

Last year, the fire and rescue unit trained over 20000 members of the public in firefighting and prevention and inspected over 1, 200 public and private facilities.

“In May this year, for example, we recorded 15 incidents; in June and July, we recorded a combined 14 incidents. The decline is not what we are looking at… we need to ensure that no incident happens, and that starts from an individual responsibility at home, school and owners of facilities, by taking all necessary safety measures,” ACP Seminega said.

Most fire incidents investigated, he said, were caused by carelessness, short circuit due poor or substandard electric installations, overloading the system, and unattended candles in homes.

He gave a reference to some cases of carelessness where people who use gas-cooker and forget to switch it off, which in some cases prompt a fire.

Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) specifies only insulated copper cables with a cross-section area between 1.5mm2 to 6mm2.

Substandard cables seized from the market or installed in some of the affected facilities are found to be having conductors made mainly of aluminum with a thin coating of copper material around the aluminum conductor, which are immune to short-circuit.

ACP Seminega pointed out that fires lead to enormous economic loss and sometimes loss of lives.

Between 2012 and 2014, property worth about Rwf5 billion including buildings, were destroyed in fire incidents throughout the country.

“This much loss prompted us to go back on the drawing board to identify and mitigate the causes including public sensitization, acquiring hi-tech firefighting equipment that are in line with the level of development,” the CO said.

The department that started with two non-firefighting vehicles and 16 trained police officers in 2002 currently boosts of close to 20 hi-tech firefighting trucks and other rescue equipment, and about 150 trained firefighters.

With firefighting trucks currently stationed at the regional level, plans are underway to acquire more trucks, which will be deployed down to the district level.

“Most fire disasters are avoidable if people are cautious, listen and follow guidelines provided by experts in dealing with potential causes,” he said, urging property owners to take precaution and acquire fire extinguishers for emergency situations before the arrival of professional firefighters.

As part of the response to fire, RNP and its stakeholders plan to put up water hydrants in strategic locations in different cities for easy access to water sources to put out fires.

He advised property owners to use professional and accredited electricians, use quality cables approved by the bureau of standards, and always be quick to call the police rescue unit, whenever fire breaks out for quick response.

The Force established a toll free number, 111, which citizens can call for emergency in case of a fire outbreak, as well as 112 for Emergency, Commanding Officer and fire stations lines, 0788311120, 0788311224, 0788311657 and 0788311335.



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