Inside a home in Barbar gutted by fire last month
Fires spark new safety warning in Bahrain
Manama, July 6, 2014
An alert has been issued over the potentially lethal consequences of overloading power supplies, following a spate of fires caused by short-circuits in Bahrain.
So far this year at least 236 fires have been caused by short-circuits, an average of more than one a day, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Nine people have been killed in fires this year due to short-circuits.
One of the country's top firemen is now appealing for people to take simple steps to prevent such tragedies, such as switching off electrical appliances or air-conditioning units when they are not needed and making sure that the voltage does not exceed the maximum load.
The warning coincides with a surge in electricity consumption during summer, when some people leave the air-conditioners on round the clock.
"Most of the house fires take place due to short-circuits and the cause is an overload on appliances and electrical meters installed outside buildings," said Civil Defence operations director Colonel Salah Salim.
"People leave their electronic devices and appliances on for over 24 hours, which causes an overload on sockets leading to short-circuits.
"They leave their televisions, air-conditioners, washing machines, microwave ovens and other appliances on for days.
"We recommend they switch off all these devices immediately after use.
"Some people go on vacation and leave electronic devices on, which is dangerous - especially during summer."
He added that large families or labour accommodations where several people use multiple electronic devices at the same time were at increased risk.
"There is pressure on wires, cables and sockets when all members of the family are using electronic devices at the same time," he added.
To make matters worse, he said some landlords and homeowners fail to properly instal and maintain electrical cables.
"Some hire unskilled electricians who don't have professional experience," cautioned Col Salim.
"They should not hire cheap labour with no qualification in this profession.
"Poor or badly installed wiring systems is a major problem and a cause of fires in Bahrain.
"Landlords and homeowners must select the best quality wires and sockets, rather than going for the cheapest ones.
"We also know for a fact that hundreds of workers are crammed into old and dilapidated buildings, which are unsafe.
"We, together with municipality officials, are working to combat this issue.
"We call upon these workers to move to safer buildings before any incident takes place.
"Landlords must be warned not to rent out such buildings to poor workers, who cram in a room and risk their lives."
He blamed a lack of awareness about the dangers posed by short-circuits for the problem persisting.
"Many people flout safety standards," he said.
"The main reason for so many fires in Bahrain is the lack of knowledge and awareness.
"People need to be educated and extra vigilant, especially during summer.
"As the temperature soars there will be more pressure on electrical devices, wires and sockets used daily.
"Some fires take place due to negligence and we have been campaigning to educate people about hazards and how to avoid major tragedies."
Col Salim revealed the Civil Defence operations room received 3,573 calls since the start of the year.
They were related to fires in residential properties, farms, cars and boats, in addition to accidents and people being trapped inside vehicles - as well as people getting locked out of their cars.
He urged motorists to take their vehicles for inspection to ensure they are able to handle the heat of summer.
Col Salim also urged people who use gas appliances to make sure they are safe.
"Housewives, labourers and others should check gas appliances before using them," he said.
"If they smell gas, they need to take immediate action or call for assistance.
"Every year we get news about workers dying in fires due to gas leaks.
"Especially those living in old and dilapidated houses, which are in poor condition and not fit to live in.
"They need to do regular maintenance and we have been educating people through lectures and workshops.
"An awareness campaign by the Interior Ministry will help educate these people, which we are already working on." - TradeArabia News Service