Fire Prevention Week: Experts Call for Separation of Auditing, Regulation Roles

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Omolabake Fasogbon

As the world celebrates the 2016 Fire Prevention Week, experts have advised the Federal Government to consider separating the regulatory work of the fire service from the auditing function, for the purpose of efficiency of roles and to limit cases of fire outbreak even as they lament weak enforcement of safety rules in the country.

According to African Centre for Life and Fire Safety (ACLFS),a subsidiary of NFPAWA,as much as there are laws and regulations guiding fire and safety activities in the country, government needs to step up its efforts in the area of enforcement to make sure that workers and every other persons are safe.

The Centre’s Lead Consultant, Antonia Beri,who expressed disappointment in poor safety compliance level of both individual and companies, identified both auditing and strict enforcement of related laws as being vital to preventing fire outbreak and noted that much are expected from the three tiers of government in these areas.

She added: “Besides this, government should work at ensuring the independence of the regulatory and auditing sections as different entities .In other words, there should be a clear boundary between these two functions, otherwise, it can compel conflict of interest. The government alone cannot serve as the regulator and the auditor, separating these roles will also build a platform whereby these offices can be held accountable and responsible in a transparent manner.

“While the government can maintain its role strictly as the standard setting body, it should empower and certify accredited and credible auditing consultant to work with the enforcement unit.The auditing section should be made to operate neutrally, outside the fire service. While I also recommend that auditing should be made a zonal factor just like the set up of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), whereby certain people are responsible for certain zones. This will enable a structure that will permit simple and smaller unit, where enforcement and monitoring can be handled by professionals,” Beri stated.

Speaking on this year’s theme,:’Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years’, she pointed that Nigerians are yet to wake up to the reality of the importance of smoke alarm as a disaster averting device. While a factor of corporate organisations are open and safety conscious through their pro active steps, the response, particularly, in our individual homes could be very poor.

She said: “It is quite disheartening that despite the expensive cases of fire incidents being recorded in the country, we have failed to learn.The smoke alarm serves as an active fire system that gives an alert once there is an incidence and gives more time to go out of a building in an orderly and safe manner.”

In celebrating the Fire Prevention Week, she said the Centre, being a service provider committed to best practices in risk mitigation and ensuring life safety, has taken It as a point of duty to reach out to schools to intimate and educate school owners, teachers and students on why and what they needed to do to stay safe.

The 2016 Fire Prevention Week commenced October 9th and ends October 15th. It is celebrated globally to raise awareness of practices that can help prevent fire disasters and to recognize the work of the fire-fighters.It is also celebrated to commemorate particularly famous and devastating fires in individual communities.