The New Times (Kigali)

25 January 2013

Rwanda: Fire Safety Laws Need to Be Modified Now

THE MINISTRY of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Affairs (MIDIMAR) is reportedly submitting a ministerial draft about fire safety regulations, which might be submitted to Cabinet and become law in six months. MIDIMAR sources say that the regulations are being translated into the three official languages before submission.

According to officials, Rwandans have been neglecting to equip their buildings with fire extinguishers, and other kinds of fire prevention tools.

A definitive fire-prevention statute is something that has been certainly missing.

One must ask, how many fires resulting in the destruction of property and causing injury could have been prevented through proper guidelines? Simply holding our breath and hoping that building constructors are fulfilling their fire-prevention obligations is a risk too far. Especially as the buildings become higher and higher and house hundreds of people.

With a well-drafted fire safety code, Rwandans will not have to worry that their property and lives are at risk. How many fires have occurred in public areas? Last year, a fire broke out at Cadillac nightclub, razing it to the ground. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

However, imagine if it occurred with the place packed to the brim? Hundreds would have possibly died not only from the fire and smoke inhalation but also from being trampled on by a panicked crowd, trying to get out using only one tiny exit.

The issue of ensuring that there are emergency exits, smoke detection units and sprinkling systems in all major public buildings is of immediate concern.

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