Eight die in 328 fires
Sat, 23 June 2012
MUSCAT — Statistics released by the Directorate-General of Civil Defence at the Royal Oman Police (ROP) show that 328 fires were reported in Muscat Governorate since the beginning of the year. The blazes left eight people dead and 11 others injured. Fires are among the most common accidents during the summer season, said Lt Col Salim bin Obaid al Saadi, Head Officer of the Civil Defence Centre in Seeb, noting that drowning is yet another peril about which the ROP seeks to spread awareness.
Only four such accidents occurred since the beginning of the year, but, thanks to the efforts of the ROP’s divers and civil defence squads that patrol the beaches and sea areas frequented by holiday makers, the accidents did not result in loss of life. Lt Col Al Saadi warned that not many visitors to the seaside are aware of the existence of strong sea currents and high waves.
Speaking in detail about fires, Lt Col Al Saadi said that a major obstacle to rescue operations during vehicular fires is the congestion of other vehicles at the accident sites making it very difficult for civil defence teams to provide immediate help to the victims. He said that people should drop the habit of rushing to accident sites to satisfy their curiosity.
Vehicular fires usually occur due to lack of periodic maintenance, the leaking of fuel from the fuel tank and worn-out electrical connections, said Lt Col Al Saadi, who advised that, upon the occurrence of a vehicular fire, the driver should stay cool, take the vehicle out of the road, park properly, empty the vehicle passengers and immediately use the fire extinguisher or dust to put out the fire.
Al Saadi also warned against people gathering around sites where building fires occur. He said that the risk lies in the probability of inhaling poisonous gases wafting from the fires, as well as the possibility of electrical poles or parts of the buildings collapsing. Building fires are most common in makeshift buildings which are often used as worker residences, workshops or stores, said Al Saadi, noting that these structures or caravans often lack basic fire safety precautions.
Meanwhile, Lt Col Hamad bin Ali al Wahaibi, Director of Fire Safety at the Directorate General of Civil Defence, said that 361 instances of violation of fire safety standards were registered in the Sultanate during the first quarter of this year. Lt Col Al Wahaibi urged owners of establishments to stick to fire safety precautionsto help save the life of their workers and their own properties.
Al Wahaibi said that his department, gets many requests for constructing makeshift structures every month, always stresses that these structures, after approval is given, should be set up and painted with incombustible materials and have proper electrical connections as per the standards set by the Directorate-General of Civil Defence.
Among the steps taken to control fire accidents, the Fire Safety Department, when it discovers a violation, first issues tickets (fines) to the offenders and stops all co-operation with the offending establishment until the problem is rectified, said Al Wahaibi, noting that, if the offenders fail to rectify the problem, they are reported to the Public Prosecution Department for further action.
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