Reverend Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, the Speaker of Parliament, has directed that the Minister of Interior should appear before the House, to brief members and the nation on the Ministry’s preparedness to deal with the incidence of fire outbreaks.

No timeline was given. Fire outbreaks have hit markets, filling stations and other places, and the Speaker’s directive followed a statement on the floor, on Thursday, by Mr Abdul Aziz Muniru, MP for Akan Constituency, on the “Grenfell Tower Fire and Lessons to Learn from It”.

The Grenfell Tower fire, Wikipedia reports, “was a major fire at a 24-storey 220-foot (70 m) high tower block of public housing flats in North Kensingto, West London, England which started on 14 June 2017 resulting in a high number of casualties and severe damage to the building.

“The Metropolitan Service has said that five fatalities have been formally identified and a further 74 people are missing and presumed dead, bringing the presumed total number of fatalities to 79 – the deadliest fire in mainland Britain in more than 100 years.”

The Speaker indicated that the statement had several implications, and the Minister’s briefing should include the extent of availability of hydraulic platforms as well as fire prevention in general.

He also concurred to the need to consolidate all fire legislations, including insurance, and directed the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to take the matter up.

Mr Muniru’s statement sparked passionate contributions from members, who queried how safe the buildings that house the national assembly and the lawmakers, should there be any unexpected fire.

The buildings include the Chamber Block, the Speakers Block, the New Block and the Tower Block (Job 600), where the legislators have their offices.

According to Mr Muniru, Ghana’s fire regulations were extended to include residential building, but like many other laws the main challenge is implementation, prompting the lawmaker to ask how existing buildings can be helped to comply while ensuring that news buildings corresponded with the new fire regulation directive.

“The Grenfell Tower fire has become a political event because people are calling to question, whether the British Local Councils and Government cared about the health and safety of its people,” Mr Muniru said.

He asked: “How could fire ravage, I understand a recently refurbished building to such an extent?

“Also, people think property developers and owners only think about their profit. This tower building according to reports was a known fire trap.  Now the Grenfell Tower fire has destroyed a lot of property and claimed 79 lives with still more people presumed missing as at June 19, 2017.”

Mr Muniru used the opportunity to call on the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies to take structural fire audit in existing public buildings to ensure whether they were habitable, safe for humans as well as their functionality.

He also drew the attention of the House to issues of climate change and subsequent flash-floods, and tidal waves among other causes of calamities, and prayed the Speaker to “organise and direct members of the House to take an orientation on fire fighting techniques on Job 600 and in the Chamber Block.

“This should include the use of fire extinguishers, what to do in the case of fire outbreak, where escape routes are located for swift deployment of rescue workers and subsequent evacuations”.

Mr Muniru added: “I think many members don’t even know the inside out of Job 600 and yet we work there”.

He said inferences must be made from what he called “British rules, standards and regulations” rather than wholly adopting them to solve local problems.

Mr Muniru called on the executive to bring to the House the Building Industry Regulatory Authority Bill and the Survey Council Bill for passage to help champion the solution to the diverse building related problems in Ghana.

Alhaji Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka, the Minority Chief Whip, contributing to the statement, decried the situation where measures that can be taken to avoid, prevent effectively manage fires practiced and left rather to God’s intervention.

“We overburden God… Let’s take responsibility for some of these things. God can only do the supernatural,” Alhaji Muntaka advised.

GNA