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Ebeano supermarket fire may have been averted if… — Ex-AIG, Iwar



A retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Austin Iwar, says the fire that recently gutted multi-million naira shopping centre, Ebeano Supermarket Lokogoma, in the Federal Capital Territory, may have been averted if the closed-circuit television installed in the expansive building was diligently and religiously monitored by security personnel in the supermart.

The ex-AIG, who stated this in a chat with The PUNCH on Tuesday, also said there was the need for regulatory agencies to step in and enforce safety standards in all public places.

The PUNCH had, on July 17, reported that the supermarket was engulfed by fire, which lasted for several hours before the FCT Fire Service fought the inferno but goods and properties worth millions of naira had already been destroyed.

In the footage obtained by our correspondent on Monday, the suspect, who has been identified, was seen walking into the supermarket along with two suspected female accomplices.

The minor could be seen walking to a section of the supermarket where gas cylinders and electric cookers were kept. She later picked up a lighter and lit an item there and walked away.

Reacting in a chat with The PUNCH, Iwar said, “People think installing CCTV is a fashion or part of the decoration of the premises. No, if you install CCTV in a public place like Ebeano, there should be security personnel that are sitting in front of the CCTV 24 hours, seven days.

“There should be a security room, what you call monitoring room where you have the monitors that are connected to the CCTV that should monitor everything that is going on within the supermarket and on the premises.

“You must have 24 hours security personnel that are sitting in front of the monitors, looking at whatever is happening.

“I do not know whether Ebeano has a monitoring room or whether people sit there, monitoring what is going on in the place, but what I know as someone who had been a law enforcement agent is that when you install CCTV in a public place, you should have people monitoring it all the time.”

Iwar also noted that regulatory agencies must sit up and ensure that necessary risk-mitigating facilities and equipment were in place in public buildings.

“This situation calls for regulatory agencies on public buildings. For example, there is no way you should build a house without the fire service approving what should be done there. There should be fire extinguishers all over the place, there should be sprinklers, then you must have smoke detectors.

“Assuming Ebeano was installed with smoke detectors, and sprinklers, the fire won’t have happened like that because immediately the fire detector gets a whiff of the smoke, it will trigger with an alarm and everyone will be alerted. And if the smoke detector is connected to a sprinkler, immediately, the sprinkler will start sprinkling water,” he stated.

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