Freetown, January 30th, 2023 – The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) through its Directorate of Risk Reduction and Preparedness, in collaboration with the National Fire Force and other partners have commenced community engagement on fire prevention and social behavioural change in twenty-eight (28) fire-prone communities in Freetown.
The essence of community engagement is to minimize the rapid increase in electric fire incidents within Freetown through intensive community engagement for social behavioural change in handling electrical appliances/installations and explaining the dangers associated with electricity abstraction.
As enshrined in Section 11 of the NDMA Act of 2020, the Agency is mandated to manage disasters and similar emergencies in Sierra Leone and develop communities’ capacity to respond effectively to disasters and emergencies. This includes active and sustained disaster risk reduction interventions, identification of hazards and taking actions to avert them from turning into disasters.
Speaking at the engagement, the NDMA Director of Risk Reduction and Preparedness, Thomas Lebbie explained that it is the responsibility of his directorate to plan and execute activities on Disaster Risk Reduction & Preparedness, identify hazards and prepare communities to respond to emergencies.
“It is our responsibility to disseminate information and conduct public education on human activities that are most likely to cause disasters in Sierra Leone. We work with various MDAs, INGOs, NGOs and established community structures to identify the risk and build the capacity of communities to effectively respond to emergencies.
Lt. Col. H. Robin, 5th Battalion Commander, thanked NDMA for engaging the Wilberforce community on fire prevention. He said the Wilberforce military barracks has suffered two fire incidents in less than a month. He noted that such engagements, in risk reduction activities, are crucial in mitigating potential losses and reducing the likelihood and severity of a possible disaster. Lit. Col. H. Robin concluded by admonishing the participants to domesticate the precautionary messages to save lives and property.
The joint assessments usually conducted during fire incidents by the NDMA and Partners have revealed that the rapid increase in household fire incidents, especially in Slum/Clustered communities, is caused mostly by poor electrification. Some of these cannot be unconnected to the poor wiring of houses by unprofessional electricians who habitually use faulty, old and outdated materials, and faulty receptacles for their work. In addition, there are testimonies of multiple illegal connections, especially to a single-phase domestic EDSA Meter, which accounts for so many fire outbreaks in the affected communities.
The directorate of risk reduction and preparedness will continue its community engagements in other targeted communities to shape people’s perceptions of risk and influence their actions with respect to reducing disaster risks and enhancing community preparedness.
Meanwhile, the public is continuously advised to always consult trained and qualified electricians for their electrical work. Paying attention to the maximum recommended wattage on all electrical appliances can minimize the risk of an electric fire in households.