Fire: A Good Servant But A Bad Master

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Fire is a very good invention that has helped and continues to help mankind but many say it is also a bad master. Although man is given the brain to handle fire and other problems at ease but man often forgets to protect at all cost. Fire has a lot of good in itself but continues to ravage when it can. We hear nearly every other day the damages caused by fire in our society and how it engulfs certain countries especially Australia where a simple fire swept over a town and many people perished. We see how an old man in his lonely house in The Gambia was engulfed by fire while keeping himself warm by the gentle heat of it and how he ended up being killed by the same fire. Let us read along and see how fire could be avoided but still cooking our meals and how others suffered through fire and the precautions to take.

Fire is indeed a bad master. The name itself is synonymous to danger although it cooks our meals and kills the bacteria it contains. When one goes to the military, there is a tendency to hear about fire arms. This is because it is a dangerous thing and it produces what kills in an instant.   One should believe that fire itself is dangerous if not well managed. There is no way we can do without the real fire. Women use it in kitchens, either in or outside the house. They are many a time cautious.

Some causes of fire

Fire incidents are often blamed on some of the following; Candle, cooking gas, kerosene stove, electricity, cigarette jots, kerosene lamps, poor use of petrol etc.

Let us see how candle can cause havoc on man. Candle is commonly used in many compounds to substitute for electricity.  These candles are poorly placed on plates, bowls in some cases on plastic containers thinking that before it reaches the end they would have blown it out. Many sleep away and the danger begins. The flame flies with the oxygen that blows it, thus consuming whatever is placed before it. It is evident that it claims lives, burns possessions, values and devastates families causing a fresh start in life.

Gas is found in many house holds. It is only dangerous when it is not properly handled. People have known its diverse dangers so many people manage to be careful. Many stories have emerged especially that of Kanifing Estate where many people died and others suffered severely and some were taken to Dakar for further treatment due to gas explosion. "But many say if you can't use it leave it."

Kerosene stoves are not common cooking instruments in The Gambian society. For those who use it, may not see the dangers it can cause. Many believe dangers emanating from kerosene stoves come especially when the kerosene is adulterated. Meaning, it has been mixed with another gas that has a high concentration of inflammables. Evidently, the content may not burn on the purpose of cooking but of burning and causing havoc. Users should be more careful as to how to manage it. It is often in difficult situations these things get burnt and ravage the family and leave others badly burnt in hospitals for weeks and months only to cure themselves. The aftermath is often not beautiful.

Many houses get burnt by fire but their exact causes can never be ascertained because of the circumstances in which the fire may have emanated to consume the house. Many switch on plugs like television cables, and other appliances and leave them there and go away. Some may come back in time to meet it and others may not. The excess power that supplies in this instance has no outlet, would rather cause explosion with fire and smoke to over take the house. The danger is caused when the fire is not seen in time. When seen, the fire service will come but some times the fire may have taken its toll.

Cigarette jots: These are often thrown on the floor by those who smoke. Some would be afraid of either parents not seeing them or ashamed of someone coming to them in their house, then they can easily throw the jots that would cause fire at the end. Smoking is not to be tolerated in homes. No one would know what started the fire.

With that of Kerosene Lamp, its accident is quite similar to that of the kerosene stove. Adulteration of the fuel causes a similar accident. The fire can also be quite devastating in a house hold. Poor use of petrol could mean using petrol in the wrong position. Also if it is stored in a container in a house and there is fire near it, one would expect fire to spark causing damage. This type of fire accident is not common but should be taken note of. The news about adulteration of petrol and kerosene is rife, it should be watched keenly.

Real Life Stories

Charity begins at home! Here is a story of a fire case that is close to our hearts. Malafie Badjie, a journalist/columnist of this paper has this fire story to tell. "About a month ago, I was at home preparing breakfast for my kids to school. The previous night, our gas had finished and I sent my son to buy kerosene . When he returned that night, he said "dad, it smells like petrol." I did not mind him but asked him to turn it in the stove. While I fried eggs for their breakfast, their mum asked if she could warm some chickens as well. I left the place and went to the computer to work on some stories. Suddenly, she called my attention that the stove could not be turned off. I asked her to take it out of the house but she rather blew on it giving more power to the fire unconsciously. I shouted, "Oh my God!" She ran out instantly.

I got up and helped to bring it out by the help of a wet towel. This did not do much as it also blazed to its highest ebb. I pulled it out of the kitchen and it escalated the more. I kicked it at once and the fire spread I kicked it again in the heat of the fire but stopped at the door. I hung on the door and tossed the stove on the stairs, where it started rolling on it.

The fire was all over the place leaving me with no option but to look for an exit through the fire. I held on a pipe by the stair to jump over the fire but to no avail. It broke and I fell from a high distance knocking my ankle, shoulder and head on the cement before me. I took myself to the hospital and was admitted there for a month, still suffering from severe pain in the ankle. Fire can be dangerous and disheartening. Children and women should be very careful with it."

Another woman who refused to be named said her sister had left the house and closed the door leaving candle burning. Her two kids were then killed when the fire touched the whole room. The woman came later pretending she was there but could not get the children out of the house. No one believed her  story.

Life is precious, let man guard it. Indeed fire is a good master but a bad servant.
Author: Augustine Kanjia