Preventing outbreaks of fire by public collective efforts

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  • By Than Phyo Naing (Kanyinkyo)
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A man takes photos of the fire at Kandawgyi Palace Hotel on 19 October 2017. Photo: Nyi Zaw Moe

More and more news about outbreaks of fire is heard and read in the daily newspapers these days. As the summer has already set in, the temperature is getting higher and higher in the daytime. The higher temperature is usually coupled with outbreaks of fire. Old wires tend to be faulty and unless they are replaced in time, they could set nearby things on fire. In addition, electric cookers, charcoal or firewood stoves could become overheated, if neglected and could start to catch fire easily. Electric equipment such as irons, fans, TVs used for long duration or high voltage could set nearby inflammable things on fire. Consumed by anger and jealousy, some persons intentionally set fire to a depot or a house.
In connection with outbreaks of fire this week, the fire broke out at the Hteinbin Rubbish dump of 300 acres in Hlinethya Township on 21 April. The fire on 100 acres of rubbish dump raged up until now, sending thick smoke over North Okkalapa Township, New North Dagon township and may other nearby townships. In order to put out the fire, 16 fire engines, 14 water-carrying vehicles, 6 supporting firefighting vehicles, 6 administrative and guiding vehicles, 213 firefighters, 101 reserve firemen were sent to the rubbish dump to put out the blazing fire.
During a period of 2 days- 23 to 24 April- five outbreaks of fire occurred: a case of setting fire on a house in a village; an outbreak of fire in a house in Wetlet Township, Sagaing Region; a hut gutted fire in Mauttin village tract, Magywe Region; a house consumed by a blazing fire in Letpadan Township, Bago Region; and a car engulfed by balls of fire on the Anawrahta Road, Hlinethaya Township and Yangon Region. Therefore, houses and other properties were lost in the fire, according to the news reports in the state-dailies.

Notices of avoiding and keeping things safe
At the time of the year, fire brigades and ward authorities go round to beware of fire outbreaks by using bull-horns or loudspeakers;
actually it is a must for firemen and authorities concerned. There is a saying: “A thief leaves something behind; nothing is left when a
house is gutted by fire.” When a house catches fire in a ward, it will spread like wildfire towards village or town. Fresh outbreaks of fire make the young and old alike get more nervous and worried. Even in Yangon, an old building of brilliant workmanship like Kandawgyi Palace Hotel caught fire and gutted by fire last year.
It is unusual that more and more vehicles—big or small—get caught fire on the road. They generally use highly inflammable liquids or gas in their cars or motorcycles; they easily catch fire when they go out in very hot environments. We have never heard of catching fire in cars or motorcycles in the past; it is common news nowadays. Therefore, long-distance vehicles should be equipped with fire extinguishers or something to put the fire out if something happens to these vehicles while going on a highway.

Preventing outbreaks of fire
Here are some instructions by the Fire Department of preventing outbreaks of fire in wards, villages and towns: putting a watchman to beware of fire if a wood-burning stove is used; Formica or asbestos sheets must be used between the roofs and stoves; and traces of live charcoals have to be completely extinguished.

Getting prepared
Fire stations have to be in a state of getting prepared with firefighters waiting for emergencies; fire engines are getting ready with fully loaded with water and fuels. Some people have experienced a lot about outbreaks of fire; it is important to put out a fire in advance before fire engines arrive. It is believed that residents usually tried to extinguish the burning fire secretly due to a worry of getting involved in a lawsuit and overanxiety. All of sudden and out of control the neighbours made a phone call to the fire stations before the whole house went up in flames. At the same time, neighbors usually focused on their house and properties, let alone distinguishing the burning fire. In addition, next-door neighbors became overanxious and nervous while children were running crying to and fro in apocalyptic event.
Over anxiety
When fire breaks out in a ward of poor housing conditions, it is good enough for residents in a calm day; but it will get worse and worse if the fire breaks out in a windy day. Even if fire engines arrive in time, they sometimes find themselves in short supply of fuels and water. Most of the time, lanes are too narrow for the vehicles to enter from the backyards and from left or right side. That is why they cannot extinguish the burning fire in a period of short time.

Preventing outbreaks of fire
In conclusion, only when we can prevent the outbreaks of fire, then a liberation from loss of properties and anxiety can be obtained by taking precautionary measures. These measures may include a lot of things taken seriously from the beginning in every household: old wires and faulty wiring should be replaced; the use of electricity supply and voltage should be regularly balanced; Formica or asbestos sheets have to be put between stoves and inflammable materials; easy availability of fire extinguishers is put in suitable places; try to learn how to use them properly; inflammable materials have to be separated or removed; residents should have water and sand at the ready; and they should abide by the instructions released by the Fire Departments concerned.
Small fire hoses must be fixed to the roofs to prevent fire outbreaks spreading from next-door neighbors. Light generators should be used in an emergency during the outage; always keep the water tanks to the full; valuable things such as jewel cases and important documents should be separated from the minor ones including movable things. Everything must be taken seriously in connection with outbreaks of fire which are often and frequent across the country during the summer. In this way , outbreaks of fire in a ward, village or town can be prevented conscientiously by public collective efforts in the future.

  • Translated by Arakan Sein
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