Editorial comment: Placing value on fire safety

The destroyed house at Volivoli, Rakiraki. Picture: ANISH CHAND

It is sad, and unfortunate that a family in Volivoli, Rakiraki, will have a bleak Diwali this year after their two-bedroom home was destroyed by fire on Tuesday night.

We learn that Praveen Reddy and his family were away at a neighbour’s house when the fire was noticed about 8pm.

He said his wife and two children had gone to a religious gathering when they were alerted about the fire. “By the time we reached home, the fire had spread across the house due to strong winds,” he said.

He estimated his loss at about $85,000. “I will have to rebuild the house for the sake of my family. I hope to receive assistance from the public,” he said.

Mr Reddy, who earns a living as a fisherman, said his family would be living with a neighbour for the time-being. As officers from the National Fire Authority carry out investigations to determine the cause of the fire, we are reminded about fire safety.

In August, 2020, when the then Minister for Local Government Premila Kumar announced that the total cost of damage caused by fires in five months last year was over $10 million, we said it was alarming!

The National Fire Authority, she said, had attended to 44 structural fires from January to May that year. Active community engagement, she said, was part of strengthening fire awareness and ensuring proactive measures were in place before disasters happened.

Mrs Kumar said the challenges in the field of firefighting also involved building a relationship between the NFA and the public. In that sense, we have always said the NFA cannot fight fires alone. We have to be engaged, and we have to be part of the solution.

We keep talking about fire safety tips and advice, yet every time a fire destroys a house and leaves families homeless, we rue the mistakes we made and how we failed. We keep saying accidents happen because we allow them to. But let’s face it, we can prevent accidents.

That’s why fire safety tips and advice are important in the fight against house fires. We have to be proactive. We must value fire safety advice and appreciate safety tips. It is in our best interest to ensure every member of the family understands the importance of fire safety.

They must know evacuation plans, and must be aware of hot spots in the home setting. So let’s start by ensuring all wirings are checked by qualified electricians.

Losing a home can be demoralising, and stressful. It leaves a dent in the pocket, and can leave families financially stressed.

That’s when years of hard work go up in flames. Losing a life hurts and is emotionally draining.

It leaves a lifetime scar on the mind of those impacted, so one of our challenges would be to appreciate good advice.

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