The Aba Fire Service Commander, Mr Okezie Uche, has urged 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 on Sunday during an interview with the Newsmen.
He said that unauthorised establishment of LPG filling stations or retail outlets pose a huge threat to public safety and should be discouraged.
The report gathered that the increased consumption of cooking gas in homes and eateries in Aba has consequently prompted the 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 established 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 a 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 a 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 suggests that the siting of such businesses should only be done in places with 2 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 of 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 the 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.
Newsmen observed that 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.