1.0   Introduction

1.1   Background to the Study

Fire is the rapid or sudden oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light and various reaction products. (Wikipaedia, 2009).

Fire outbreak in the country has indeed assumed an alarming proportion. In Nigeria today, there is barely a day without one accident or the other and most has to do with fire outbreak. Fire is often described as the greatest servant but the worst master – difficult to control when it turns into inferno – as it wrath on burning and scorching everything on its path. As we all know, it has no respect for man; rich and poor alike.

Fire is caused by several factors. Boateng (2013) posited that improper electrical fittings, use of substandard electrical materials, defective generators, power fluctuations resulting from frequent power outages and illegal tapping from the national grid are some of the possible causes of fire outbreak. Anaglatey (2013) says the rise in fire outbreak could be traced to intense harmattan, overloading of electrical appliance on the same fuse and improper electrical installation in homes and workplace. He continues that illegal, improper and old wiring system as well as cooking in the home and workplace with naked fire is some of the major causes of frequent fire outbreaks. Abu (2013) reports that 75% of fire outbreak in some West Africa countries including Ghana and Nigeria  are caused by smoking, 15% out of ignorance and 10% out of accidents.

According to Sheffrin (2003) whenever there is fire outbreak it is never a pleasant incident, usually resulting in serious problems for the residents of the property affected. He defined fire as a chemical reaction in which a substance combines with oxygen in the air and the process is accompanied by the emission of heat, light and sound. This menacing nightmare is one problem that is engulfing Nigeria right now as rampant fire outbreaks are paramount with more modernized/conventional surroundings in the past few years. Investigations conducted so far by all institutions concerned including the team from the United States of America have shown that the calamities are caused largely by accidental and careless handling of gas equipments, electricity and naked fires in our markets, homes, offices and industrial settings. There are countless things that can actually set a house or building on fire. Many times fire occurs because of a person’s carelessness but other times its just fate and nobody can be blamed for it.

Over the years many fire incidents have occurred in public places due to some unforeseen circumstances such as the use of explosives, ethnic crises, and accidents. However there are eminent needs for buildings, tunnels and many other concrete infrastructures to be assessed for inherent residual strength and changes in physical appearance following fire accidents. After a severe fire, structure could be repaired rather being demolished. Many fire affected buildings in Nigeria in recent years have been demolished while some others are left dilapidated; consequently there is a persistent requirement for structures to be forensically assessed after fire damage to ensure safety and enable appropriate repaired to be planned and implemented. It is necessary to evaluate fire-affected structures in a systematic manner to determine the extent of damage and in order to propose appropriate repair or re-construction. According to Ekhase (2011) the intensity and duration of fire can be estimated by observing the damage.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

Without any iota of doubt, fire outbreak has led to considerable amount of loss of lives and properties thereby leading to a deep fall into economic problems, ranging from individual family’s to the nation at large. Stemming from this, the statement of the problem is thus itemized below:

  1. Ignorance leading to storage of fuel or other combustible substances around market places or shops.
  2. Careless handling/usage of appliances including gaseous and electrical appliances etc.
  3. Inabsolute knowledge on fire safety principles/prevention.
  4. Overloading of electrical appliances/faulty electrical wiring.
  5. Overheating of electronic equipment (poorly ventilated storage for electrical component or fittings.

1.3   Aim and Objectives

The aim of this study is to investigate the causes of fire outbreak in market buildings to serve as basis for the upturn of loss of lives and properties. In order to achieve this aim, the study is set out with the following objectives.

  1. To examine the causes of fire outbreak in market buildings.
  2. To determine the strategies on improving fire prevention measures on market buildings.
  3. To highlight various fire preventive measures to be observed in market buildings.

1.4   Scope and Delimitation

The scope of this project is to particularly encompassing the investigation of causes of fire outbreak essentially in market buildings. The geographical scope is on Benin City, hence by quantitative analysis and the help of structured questionnaires administration around the study area and direct access to the located citizenry, various conditions causing major challenges (fire management) will be critically accessed. And also, researches involving questionnaires administration normally meets with various limitations including time, mobility and funds to meeting different targets.

1.5   Significance of the Study

The study would enhance people’s knowledge on market buildings fire management and causes to this great menace thereby postulating the areas to effective management and prevention. It would also help market residents to know the fire safety measures and causes to be particularly vigilant about. The research document produced from the study therefore, would serve as a reference material for students, researchers and policy makers.

The ability to understand and predict the patterns of fire ignitions will also help managers and decision makers to improve the effectiveness of fire prevention, detection and control.



1.6   Study Area

The study area is Benin City, Edo State. A city of estimated population of 1,147,188 inhabitants by the 2006 population census. It is the capital of the state in Southern Nigeria. It is approximately 40 kilometres North of the Benin River. It is situated 320 kilometres by road East of Lagos. Benin is the centre of Nigerias rubber industry, but processing palm nuts for oil is also an important traditional industry. The original people and founders of the Edo State Empire and Edo people were initially ruled by the Ogiso (Kings of the Sky) dynasty who called their land Igodomigodo.