Geography and Planning Project Topics

Urban Fire Disaster a Case Study of Port Harcourt

Urban Fire Disaster a Case Study of Port Harcourt

Urban Fire Disaster a Case Study of Port Harcourt

Chapter One


  1. To develop and encourage NGO’s network in the state to manage disasters in the state.
  2. To reduce or avoid the human, physical, and economic losses suffered by individuals, by the society, and by the country at large.
  3. To reduce personal suffering and to speed recovery.



 Recent Fire disasters in Nigeria 

The issues related to fire safety has become important issues in national discourse. A good number of fire incidents have been reported and documented by Nigeria news media, the fire service departments and the National Emergency Management Agency. The News Agency of Nigeria reported that over 50 market stalls were gutted by fire in the early hours of 5th of March 2008 in the Kuto Market of Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State.  In an earlier incident  on  1st March 2008, goods worth over one hundred million (N100m) was lost to a  fire that engulfed part of the Industrial Spare Parts Market along McDermott Road in  Warri, Delta state while  over 2,000 shops at the popular international Tejusho Market, Lagos were razed down by inferno  on the 19th of December, 2007.

In the year 2011, according to the record of the Department of Fire Service of Oyo state,  349   fire incidents occurred in the city of Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo sate in South west Nigeria,  destroying property worth millions of naira. The number of the casualties and the figure of the incidents showed an increase of such disasters compared with previous year (2010) with a recorded figure of 319 fire incidents. In the capital city of Abuja a fire accident on the second floor of the National Assembly annex building housing the Legal and Accounts Departments of the National Assembly Service Commission consumed huge amount of valuables on March 22, 2012.

Fire Accident and Safety Management

Fire deaths and property losses could be eliminated or at least be curbed if regulatory authority could identify potential fire zones in advance for effective management. This however will require enhancing the capacity of relevant regulatory institutions in evaluating the proneness of existing buildings to fire accidents using appropriate risk analysis tools.  Measures to reduce the severities of damages of fire accidents can be appropriately deployed and effective prevention measures put in place if the potential of fire accident in any environment can be evaluated.

One of the tools of fire risk analysis is the checklist. The checklist involves the listing of attributes affecting risk analysis and the identification of the presence or absence of specific fire accidents attributes. Other tools used for analysis are Fault Tree Analysis (FTA), Event Tree Analysis (ETA), Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Cause/ Effect Analysis, Functional Hazard Analysis (FHA), Human Error Analysis, and Software Hazard Analysis. The conventional approaches used for hazard or risk analysis are Energy Trace Barrier Analysis (ETBA), Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP), Subsystem Hazard Analysis (SSHA), System Hazard Analysis (SHA), Operating and Support Hazard Analysis (O&SHA), Hazard Analysis Schedules, Multi-criteria Evaluation (MCE), Multi-criteria Decision Analysis (MCDS), System/ Integrated Hazard Analysis (SHA/IHA) and Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA).  A major requirement for effective fire prediction is the use of easy to use tool that can perform well the face of limited and imprecise data.

Workplace fire safety requirements

Companies use different methods for developing preparedness plans, depending on the size of the facility, the number of employees, and the type of operations. Small companies (for example, beauty salons or medicine stores) might have relatively simple plans whereby the company owner tells employees where the exits are located, what the alarm sounds like, and which emergency service numbers to use. In contrast, employers in large organizations, with multiple sites, greater variability in operations, or large numbers of employees (as seen in the oil and gas industry) may develop complex preparedness plans that cover all types of facilities (Ball, 2001). In facilities where the evacuation of occupants during a drill is unrealistic, such as in health care facilities, fire drills involving staff may serve the purpose.

In buildings where the occupant load is of a changing character, such as hotels or department stores, no regularly organized emergency egress and relocation drill is possible. Egress and relocation drills are to be limited to the regular employees who can be taught the proper procedure and be trained to properly direct other occupants of the building in case of emergency evacuation or relocation (Demers and Jones, 2001). The National Building Code of Nigeria classifies buildings into groups according to use or number of occupants. The code prescribes the minimum post construction requirements as regards fire installations for each group. No two groups have the same fire protection requirements because of the differences in the hazards that exist in them, what the building is used for, the height of the building and the number of occupants (NBC, 2006).







The primary data were collected by means of questionnaires


This study area is the Greater Port Harcourt city   located in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria along the Bonny River, 66km from the Gulf of Guinea. It lies on the geographical coordinates of 4° 47l 27ll and 6° 59l 54ll. The Greater Port Harcourt has a population of 5.7 million people (Transparency for Nigeria, 2010) comprising of eight Local Government   Areas (LGAs) namely Port Harcourt, Okrika Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre, Ogu/Bolo, Tai, Oyigbo and Eleme as shown in Figure 1. Port Harcourt is the hub of Nigeria’s petroleum industry activities. The population is made up of workers in the oil and gas, education, health sectors, construction industry, etc. on one hand and entrepreneurs of private businesses, traders and artisans on the other hand.




Through the questionnaires instrument the level of fire safety awareness and practice in the workplace were evaluated.  The level of fire safety awareness among workers based on the outlined parameters is as shown in Table 2. Table 3 shows how the Kendall’s statistic, W was calculated. Ri for FSA1 was calculated from Table 2 using Equation (2) as follows:

Ri = (77 x 3) + (23 x 2) + (0 x 1) = 277.




Based on the results of this study, the level of fire safety awareness and practice among workers in workplaces in Greater Port Harcourt, the following conclusions can be drawn:

  1. There is an appreciable level (65%) of fire safety awareness among workers in greater Port Harcourt, Nigeria;
  1. On the average, there is 65% of fire safety practice in workplaces in greater Port Harcourt;
  2. The gaps identified are poor awareness on the types of PFEs that exist, poor knowledge about regulations guiding fire safety in Nigeria, lack of fire safety drills ; and lack of smoke detectors in workplace; and
  3. On the Kendall’s statistical analysis, there was a high degree of agreement between respondents on the levels of fire safety awareness (0.99) and fire safety practice (0.98), respectively.


Based on the outcome of the study the following recommendations are made:

  1. Management of organizations should give employees proper fire safety training to be able to identify types of extinguishers and the corresponding type of fire it is used for;
  2. Management of organizations should show commitment to ensuring fire safety in the workplace by making policies and putting necessary resources in place to implement those policies;
  3. The fire service should improve on enforcing laws as regards fire safety in workplaces to ensure that organizations implement set rules and standards; and
  4. More research should be carried out to determine the level of fire safety awareness and practice in workplaces that carry out similar activities.



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