Fire Brigade concerned over fire reaction

LIVES could have been lost if a mock fire drill at Bulawayo City Council’s Tower Block yesterday had been real as the occupants of the building dragged their feet when told to vacate the building.

Report by Pamela Mhlanga Own correspondent

As part of the drill, a fire alarm was rung and occupants of the building were told that a fire had broken out on the sixth floor of Tower Block.

However, officials who conducted the exercise were concerned that some people in the building failed to respond swiftly despite the fire alarm.

Addressing some visibly frightened occupants of the building who were unaware that it was a mock exercise, council’s senior health and safety officer Audrey Manyemo said some people did not follow procedures expected in case of a fire.

“This was just an exercise to find out how occupants of this building would react in case of a real fire situation,” she said.

“Some occupants took long to evacuate the building and some were attempting to use lifts.

“Next time it could be a real fire and many lives would be lost.”

She said they also found that some people did not respond to the fire alarm and there was need for occupants of the building to follow rules as instructed by the safety officers. Bulawayo City Council chief fire officer Richard Peterson told NewsDay the drills were necessary for them to identify weaknesses in people’s responses and ensure their safety in future.

“Occupants in the entire building must know that in cases of fire they have to swiftly react and evacuate the building,” he said.

“A person can even die in 38 seconds from smoke inhalation.”

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