If no one points out the fire exit closest to your room and the
dining area, be sure to ask. Learn where the fire assembly point
is as well.
Most hotels have an information pack detailing all
this in each room, so take the time to study the procedure when
Hotel management should also take note of any and all foreign
nationalities under their care and reach out to their embassies
should an eventuality such as a fire occur.
Some guests might lose their personal documents, thus
complicating their travel plans.
Step in and help as much as possible.
Fires in informal settlements
snowball quickly as a result of various factors. Scarcity of
space for instance forces residents to put up houses quite
This, in addition to the construction material often used in
such settings, means even a small fire escalates to a raging
inferno in a matter of minutes.
In such areas, timely response and evacuation is critical.
However, we have seen infrastructural challenges frustrating
emergency rescue efforts, more so when it comes to
While local authorities work on improving the existing
infrastructure, an easier fix to implement would be civic
education on fire safety.
Given how fast fires in these environs spread, a community
warning system would also help speed up the evacuation process.
We can even take it a step further and establish fire
assembly points and a headcount system, which would then help
focus any rescue efforts and resources where they are needed the
The uptake of security systems has
improved, especially in recent years.
However, this zeal is rarely matched when it comes to fire
We often think about perimeter security and intrusion
prevention for instance, while giving short shrift to fire
detection and suppression equipment.
Gadgets like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are still
thought of in the same line with sprawling office complexes, but
this is not necessarily true.
At the very least, one should have a fire extinguisher,
preferably carbon dioxide, and fire blankets at hand.
Additionally, identify a suitable fire escape and share that
with your family.
Have at least two ways to leave the house and ensure there is
clear egress at all times.
Another concern that we have had is the use of substandard
gas cylinders in our kitchens.
We have noted several incidents where fires started as a
result of a faulty cylinder.
A couple of weeks back, a house fire in Garissa was
attributed to a leaking gas cylinder, causing damages amounting
to thousands of shillings.
Such scenarios are sometimes exacerbated by human negligence,
like guardians locking young ones inside the house, making it
difficult for them to escape.
Another issue that sometimes comes up is a lack of civic
education on fire safety, which leaves victims attempting to put
out oil-based fires using water for example.
In light of this, be sure to stick to approved dealers when
purchasing or refilling your cylinders.
Also take the time to learn the different classes of fires
and the best means to put them out.
An oil-based fire should only be put out using a foam or
carbon dioxide extinguisher, while only dry powder or carbon
dioxide extinguishers can be used for electrical fires.
However, for smaller fires around the house, a fire blanket
Sometimes, simply adopting a
‘safety first’ culture is enough to circumvent most fire
Have staff who are also trained fire marshals and First
Aiders; and they will then have the knowledge to advise on any
potential risks in the office.
Alternatively, some security service providers train their
officers on fire fighting and First Aid.
Check with your service provider and confirm whether this is
Speaking from past experience, our officers have been
involved in putting out a number of fires at key, multi-storey
installations over the years, averting millions of shillings in
potential damage in the process.
Perhaps it would be best to bear this in mind as well when
picking your security provider going forward.
Another critical component here is early detection.
Smoke detectors might not cut it when it comes to highly
sensitive sites; or they might not allow you enough time to
scramble a response team.
The next level of fire detection is through the use of
This type of system continually samples the air in its
proximity; looking for any particles or elements which would
indicate that combustion is imminent.
It will then flag the fire long before it actually starts.
For larger buildings and highly sensitive sites, an
integrated building management system that has fire as one of
its integral elements would be preferred.