15 January 2013

Uganda: Schools Missing Firefighting Tools Ordered to Stay Closed

All schools that have not installed firefighting equipment within their premises may not be allowed to reopen for the new term, Police has revealed.

Kampala Metropolitan Polices spokesman Ibin Ssenkumbi told the Press in Kampala that all schools that have not heeded to several government calls to acquire the equipment could remain closed this time around.

The move, Ssenkumbi disclosed is aimed at averting deaths and loss of property as a result of fire gutting schools as the new terms begins in about two weeks -time.

It's also aimed at unraveling the progress of fire safety guidelines set by the Ministry of Education 2002 in a dire move to curb fire related carnages in schools.

The police fire brigade has dispatched officers to inspect schools and across the country in a bid to find-out those that do not have fire-fighting gadgets, even after government mooting the idea since 2002.

"Time has come establish results of the call by government for all schools to operationalize the fire-fighting measures. Government may not risk the lives of children again," Ssenkumbi viciously warned.

Accordingly, all schools were supposed to take children through fire-drills, establish numerous exits and entries into facilities, install smoke detectors and make fire functional extinguishers accessible to children.

Police has posted fire prevention officers to every division to supervise and find-out progress of efforts of school in implementing the guidelines.

The officers are also expected to ensure that the schools that do not meet fire-fighting requirements do not reopen until they do so after many schools last year defied the ministry's directive and re-opened for first term without implementing the guidelines.

The firefighting officers, Ssenkumbi said will also offer free training on fire fighting to schools in a bid to build firefighting capacity within the schools as an instant remedy to fire outbreaks.

Noting that a spate of school fires across the country has, in recent years, claimed the lives of dozens of school pupils and destroyed property worth billions of shillings, Ssenkumbi has implored all schools to purchase the equipment in time to brush-off prospects of closure.

A smoke and fire detector costs between Sh80, 000 to Sh300, 000. A fire extinguisher costs about sh 100,000 to 300,000 and is refilled at Sh40, 000.

Ssenkumbi also urged school authorities to thorough check the belongings of students as they may sneak drugs obtained from their peers during holiday into school.

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