Fire incidents increased by 16 percent in the past year compared to 2021, a new police report shows. The Director of Police Fire and Rescue Services, Mr James Apora, revealed that 1,258 fire incidents were reported last year compared to 1,058 that were registered in 2021.
“We have seen a pattern of change in the time that the fires are reported. Previously in 2021, the fire incidents were reported between midnight and morning hours, but in 2022, it shifted from 1am to 6am, majorly because people are continuing to do business until late in the night,” Mr Apora said yesterday during a media briefing in Kampala.
“Majority of these fires were registered in residential buildings followed by makeshift structures with a total of 296 fires and 200 fires, respectively. The major cause of most fires was negligence, with 200 fires, followed by an electric short circuit with 186 fires,” part of the report reads.
The report further adds that the majority of fire incidents (976 cases) were in the Kampala Metropolitan area. The police listed the most devastating fires responded to last year.
They are; the Soweto Market fire in Maganjo Zone, Nabweru in Wakiso District; the fire that gutted 10 commercial rooms in Buggu Ward, Massajja Division, Wakiso District; and the one that gutted commercial stalls on Nakivubo Road in Kampala Central Division.
Others are; the fire at St Noa Girls S.S in Kikumbi Zone in Makindye-Ssabagabo; the one in Katwe Police Barracks; the one in timber yard in Bwaise, Kawempe Division, that at Bupadengo Day and Boarding Primary School in Kamuli District, and the fire at Buluba Day and Boarding Primary School, Mayuge District.
The directorate also named 11 buildings and installations saved from fire in 2022 as Nambusi Arcade in Kampala Central Division, Kawa Com Uganda Limited building in Namanve Industrial Area, Active Building on Nakivubo Road in Kampala District, Tirupati Business Park in Kyebando, Kawempe Division, and National Theatre Building in Kampala Central Division.
The others are Ministry of Agriculture building in Wandegeya, Pride Micro Finance Bank on Metropole House in Kampala, Opportunity bank Entebbe branch, Housing Finance Bank on Kololo Avenue, Supreme Court in Kololo, and the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe.
Police also said they noted a slight reduction in the number of deaths from fires from 74 cases in 2021 to 64 in 2022 and they managed to save 271 lives.
Mr Apora said lack of emergency lanes on roads, which affects the time of arrival at the scene, heavy traffic jam on the roads, and lack of access roads to most residential, and commercial facilities affected police’s response to the fires.
“The other challenges are lack of plot numbers, which makes it hard to locate scenes of emergency, inadequate fleet to match the growing cities, towns and municipalities; inadequate number of personnel to man call stations 24 hours, and inadequate fire hydrant points in cities, towns, municipalities and industrial parks, false calls,” he said.
Police said there is a need to have protracted fire sensitisation campaigns, improved coverage on inspection of vulnerable facilities, and enacting fire safety laws and regulations to ease enforcement, among other interventions, to prevent fire incidents.
CAUSES OF FIRE
The police said 200 fires were caused by negligence, 108 fires by charcoal stoves/candle wax, 186 by electrical short circuit, 98 by electrical appliances left unattended to and 100 fires were caused by arson.
A total of 14 fires were caused by overheating, 36 by electrical welding and gas cutting, 250 by causes not readily established, 22 fires by uncontrolled burning, four by flammable fuel spillage, 36 fires by sparks, and four by gas cylinder explosion.