By ALPHONSE PORAU
DAMAGE to properties caused by 22 fire incidents in the past six month, most of them in Port Moresby, cost more than K23 million, according to the Fire Service.
Although no lives were lost, Chief Fire Officer (Operations) Bill Roo said the report on fires clearly showed that Port Moresby residents “simply ignore” fire awareness campaigns conducted by fire officers in various locations, and through media outlets.
Roo said it meant that fire awareness should be conducted more to remind people to take precautions to reduce losses and casualties.
Of the 22 fires incidents between March and September, 19 occurred in Port Moresby and three in other districts. Roo said the total cost of the damage to properties was K23,100,000.
The 19 in the National Capital District involved buildings and homes. He said no lives were lost, according to the report.
Roo said it was important for people to know that fire safety was a shared responsibility where people must ensure that their properties were safe.
“We have to be fire cautious. Fire safety is a shared responsibility because sometimes there are very old buildings that need renovation and rewiring. People have to take proper measures in preventing fires as much as possible,” Roo said.
“We have to take ownership of what is important. Some of the building that have gone down in NCD and other places are more than 50 years old.
“So we have to improve the structures by giving them some sort of facelift by replacing old materials.”
The PNG Fire Service badly needs proper fire-fighting equipment and training to deal with any major fires in urban centres, especially Port Moresby which has many high-rise buildings.
A senior official last year estimated that the service needed about K100 million to equip itself and its officers.
Meanwhile at the height of the drought last year, Chief Fire Officer Isaac Silas said there was little they could do to help people battling fires around the country.
Silas said they did not have the resources to help the people.
“We have about 22 provinces. We provide coverage for about 10 of those provinces only. The coverage is only for those built-up areas so our presence is not even right throughout the country,” Silas said.
By ALPHONSE PORAU