School Fires Raise Concerns About Dormitory Safety in Uganda

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School Fires Raise Concerns About Dormitory Safety in Uganda
Police investigate the cause of the fire

A recent survey by Uganda's National Building Review Board revealed alarming fire safety issues in school dormitories. The year-long investigation, which covered 120 schools across the country, exposed concerning practices.

Many dormitories lack proper exits, with a single door often locked by a matron who might not be present during a fire. Overcrowding is another major problem, with schools exceeding safe capacities. Disregarding regulations is also common, as banned triple-decker beds remain in use and properly placed fire extinguishers are scarce, with many existing ones expired.

The report sheds light on the causes of fires, citing deliberate arson as a frequent culprit alongside student negligence, particularly involving smoking.

In response to these disturbing findings, a national dialogue on school fire safety was held. Education officials, inspectors, and building committee members came together to discuss the issue. The urgency of implementing safety measures in boarding schools was a key takeaway. The Minister of State for Works emphasized the need for stricter enforcement, urging education officers to inspect schools and recommend closure of unsafe dormitories. He also challenged the National Building Review Board to take their awareness campaign directly to local communities.

The report serves as a wake-up call, highlighting the need for a comprehensive approach to tackling school fire safety in Uganda. This includes stricter enforcement of regulations, improved fire safety infrastructure in dormitories, and educational campaigns targeting students and staff. Only through a multi-pronged effort can Ugandan schools ensure the safety of their students.

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