Fires in Kuwait

Muna Al Fuzai

The series of fires in Kuwait do not seem to end, and hardly a week passes without reports of fires making headlines, especially if the damage is severe and innocent lives are lost. This raises a question about the causes of fires and what should be done to avoid negative effects on the environment and people’s health. Sometimes, the reasons for the blazes are either incomprehensible or not announced to the public – like the repeated fires at the Shadadiya university site or the tire dump.

The people of Kuwait have been puzzled and haven’t found an answer since 2013, when the first fire broke out at the university site, followed by five other blazes. Despite the formation of several investigation committees, the probes into each of the six fires did not result in a satisfactory conclusion – other than blaming cigarettes! Of course there are rumors and people talk about the beneficiaries, but nothing official has been done to punish the culprits. It’s unfortunate. In 2009, one of the worst humanitarian disasters occurred in Kuwait – the “funeral wedding” blaze in Jahra, in which 58 women and children were killed, in addition to dozens injured. The suspect was sentenced to death by hanging and was executed this year.
No one can deny the efforts of the Kuwait Fire Service Directorate – it is in a state of constant alert, and its personnel are exposed to great risk. Controlling fires is a shared duty of everyone.

The KFSD reports that at least one intentional fire breaks out daily in the country. Statistics reveal that 409 deliberate fires occurred in 2016, an average of 1.1 fires every day. According to statistics, Jahra was at the forefront of arson incidents, with 150 fires, followed by Farwaniya with 96, Ahmadi 95, Capital 25, Hawally with 24 and finally Mubarak Al-Kabeer.

These are large numbers for a small country and finding the reasons is essential. The responsibility lies not only on government bodies such as the fire department, but also on the members of the society. Safety is a responsibility and a partnership among all, especially since there have been a number of fires in which young children have lost their lives due to the negligence of the parents or lack of attention to security and safety conditions in the house or pool.

A fire broke out at the new opera house in the capital in February, but the causes are unknown to all. A few days ago, a fire broke out at the Credit Bank in South Surra. Officials have called for an investigation into the causes of the blaze. The question here is how long it will take until everyone knows the causes of the fire and if the criminals will be punished.
Official reports indicate that most fires are caused by electric short circuits, followed by children messing with thermal sources, flammable materials, throwing lighted cigarette butts, excessive electric loads, putting a heat source near flammable materials and finally forgetting about utensils on the stove.

I believe that the series of fires will not stop and it is very important that these incidents are reviewed by strict investigation committees to hold perpetrators accountable through legal channels.

Public awareness is very important, especially for domestic helpers, who have to be informed about the best ways to handle electric appliances. Smokers have to be warned that throwing a lighted cigarette butt can cause a great fire. All storage companies shouldn’t neglect security and safety conditions and non-compliant companies should be punished. This is a shared duty of all.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
muna@kuwaittimes.net

This article was published on 29/06/2017