Users of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), especially food vendors and other commercial users seem to ignore the hazards and risks associated with gas storage and use.
It is evident from our investigations that most of these users, notably those who prepare ‘koose’, fried eggs, ‘Indomie’ and chop bar operators, fix their gas cylinders in the open, under wooden structures and at marketplaces in blatant disregard to health and safety measures.
The Mirror observed that some food vendors use stones to support the regulator to prevent it from leaking, disregarding the associated dangers.
In some markets visited, it was common to find some food vendors using both gas stoves and coal pots close to each other.
Others who were seen using only charcoal also ended up pouring the fire on the ground without quenching it with water.
Similarly, a visit to some hostels in Accra and its environs revealed that some students also prefer to use their gas cylinders in their rooms as most of these hostels have no designated places for cooking.
Fire Service reaction
Reacting to these dangerous practices, the Public Relations Officer of the Ghana National Fire Service, Divisional Officer Grade Two (DO II) Ellis Robinson Okoe, said gas by nature was dangerous and explosive; and, therefore, wondered why some people handle gas cylinders anyhow.
He explained that using a stone to support the regulator of the cylinder, for example, was risky as it could easily catch fire.
“Whenever you want to know if there is a leakage in the tube, smear soapy water on it and if it’s leaking, you will see some bubbles forming. This is a simple test anyone can do at home”.
The PRO stated that it was a good safety measure to place refilled gas cylinders at the back seat where it could be placed firmly and in an upright position as against the car boot, which is often the practice.
Coal pot and gas cylinder
According to DO II Okoe, it is inappropriate to closely place coal pots and gas cylinders as the heat emanating from the coal pot can easily ignite fire.
“There are three things that cause fire - heat, fuel and air. So once there is heat, the cylinder should not be close to the stove. Market authorities must have designated areas only for cooking at the various markets.
“You cannot prevent people from cooking in the market so it’s best for the authorities or market queens to create such areas to reduce the incidence of fire outbreaks in the markets,” he indicated.
DO II Okoe said it was essential for market authorities to set up task forces who would go-round at the end of the day to check if all fires had been properly put out, adding that people who were found culpable should be sanctioned. Besides, hostel owners must also create an area for cooking and not allow students to cook in their rooms.
Gas stoves in wooden structures
The PRO also stressed the need for vendors to refrain from using gas stoves in wooden structures, explaining that “wood is combustible and should the flame get in contact with the wood, it will burn the whole structure and beyond”.
He advised the public that in the event of an accident, it was appropriate to use an extinguisher or a wet jute sack to cover the fire instead of using a car duster as being circulated on social media platforms. However, when the situation gets out of hand, then it is necessary to call the Ghana Fire Service immediately.
An attendant at Root naf Gas Station at Adabraka, Mr Rudolf Bekoe, attributed gas fires to carelessness and negligence of users.
He noted that a lot of LPG users hardly followed the routine to change the tubes of their cylinders at least every 24 months.
According to him, “people are unable to detect leakages on their cylinders, change the tubes or turn off their valves. Sometimes, even faulty cylinders are brought for refill.”
At the gas station, The Mirror observed how collection and refilling of cylinders were done and how users dangerously rolled filled cylinders into car boots.