Joseph Mugisa, the Police Chief Fire Officer and Coordinator for Emergency Response, said that Police do provide training on fire safety to the public but only upon request. He said such trainings were mainly conducted at institutions.
The majority of people in Uganda are ignorant about safety measures to undertake in case of a fire outbreak, according to the police.
Joseph Mugisa, the Police Chief Fire Officer and Coordinator for Emergency Response, told URN that the level of awareness among the public on fire safety was very low making it difficult to control fire outbreaks and minimize destruction. Mugisa said however that Police do provide training on fire safety to the public but only upon request. He said such trainings were mainly conducted at institutions.
Following the Sunday night’s fire at Capital Shoppers, URN took to the streets to find out how much people know about fire safety tips and many said they were ignorant. Some workers at public facilities said they lacked training on how to manage situations of fire outbreak.
Gilbert Oyema, a worker at Capital Shoppers, the scene of a fire on Sunday night said whereas they have firefighting equipment such as fire extinguisher, none of them has been trained on fire fighting. He, however, said after Sunday night’s experience, they would conduct the training for their staff.
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Lisa Carol, an official at International Fire Services, one of the companies selling firefighting equipment told URN that they get requests for training on fire safety mainly from institutions such as hospitals and schools, a service she said they provide at a cost ranging from 15,000 to 25,000 shillings.
She also explained that clients purchasing the firefighting equipment receive free demonstration on how to operate them. Besides the training, the company sells firefighting equipment such as smoke detectors, dry chemical extinguisher and carbon dioxide at costs ranging from 90,000 to 250,000 shillings. Despite this, she said most public facilities lack firefighting equipment and the level of awareness was low.
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Uganda has experienced several fires at public places such as Kasubi tombs, a Buganda coronation site, Owino market and several schools often leading to loss of life massive property destruction. 20 Buddo Junior School pupils died in such a fire in 2009. St. Leo’s Primary School suffered a similar tragedy in 2012 in another fatal fire in 2012 that claimed five pupils’ lives.
In spite of these repeated fires, little attempt has been made to institute a comprehensive fire safety law to ensure compliance to safety regulations.
Mugisa told URN that the absence of a law on fire safety in the country makes it difficult to effectively implement fire safety measures especially at public places.