Aba Fire Service Commander, Mr Okezie Uche, has warned residents to desist from siting Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) retail stations near residential areas in the state to avoid fire outbreaks.
Uche, who is the Assistant Chief Fire Superintendent for Aba gave the warning in his office in Aba, Abia State on Sunday, July 26, 2020.
He said that unauthorised establishment of LPG filling stations or retail outlets pose a huge threat to public safety and should be discouraged.
The increased consumption of cooking gas in homes and eateries in Aba has consequently prompted rampant establishment of different levels of LPG dispensing outlets.
Uche said that although his office was among government agencies responsible for inspecting gas retail sites, sometimes, the businesses were establish before inviting them for inspection.
According to him, such situations reduced their impact on the decisions of the sites and the emerging businesses.
“I have fought series of fires involving gas and petroleum products and it was not easy to extinguish fires from petroleum products.
“We use a special means that is not water. We use Dry Chemical Compound (DCP) or fire fighting foam.
“On Wednesday last week, there was a fire outbreak that involved a church where a lady was trying to cook with stove and gas causing the gas to explode resulting in a huge fire outbreak.
“On Thursday also there was another fire outbreak at Ogwe in Ukwa West, involving a woman selling kerosine, unknown to her that it was adulterated. The resulting fire damaged many homes.
“We advice the prospective business owners to site their facility far from residential areas but we do not have the powers to approve or stop their approval.
“It is not safe to site such businesses near residential areas and we warn that the business owners should consult us before siting their businesses,” he said.
He suggested that the siting of such businesses should only be done in places with two plots and very high walls to stop disturbing the people around.
“We also recommend that they get DCP powders, fire fighting foam, fire extinguishers, while fire alarm must be in such a place.
“They should also have a borehole around and in case fire starts, they should start from there before the arrival of the fire service; they should invite us to train them on how to prevent fire.
“We will soon embark on the education and enlightenment of the people on the dangers of handling gas near residences,” he said.
Uche said that the service could achieve more for the people if it was well positioned.
He lauded Abia government for its support and urged them to employ more hands into the service to serve the nine local government areas under it.
He also pleaded with well meaning individuals and companies in the state, to assist the government in making the Fire Service more effective and efficient.
Some of the challenges facing the Aba Zonal Command of Abia Fire Service include lack of a functional hydrant for over four years and electricity for the office since 2015.
By Ijendu Iheaka