Causes of Fire Disasters in Secondary Schools in Kenya

Pamela Imisa Shibutse, Omuterema S., China S.


Over the recent years, lives and property worth millions of shillings have been destroyed in fire disasters in secondary schools in the world. Cases of fire disasters in Kenyan secondary schools have been experienced in the last decade with increasing frequency and severity. It was therefore necessary to determine the causes of fire disasters in secondary schools. The main objective of this study was to assess causes of fire disasters in secondary schools in Kenya. An evaluation research design was used. Stratified simple random sampling was used to select the schools and the respondents. The study population was composed of secondary school principals, teachers, laboratory technicians, students and the District Quality Assurance and Standards Officers (DQASO) in Vihiga County. Data was collected by use of structured questionnaires designed for teachers, students and laboratory technicians, in-depth interviews with school principals and the DQASOs and an observation checklist. Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 11.5 was used in the analysis of data with Chi-square being used to test independence and variation of responses. A spearman’s rank order correlation was run to determine the relationship between teachers’ and students’ responses. According to the findings of this study, Faulty electrical appliances, arson, flammable materials, gas leakages, waste burning, students unrest and lighting were cited as main hazards that lead to fire disasters in secondary schools. It was also established that: five out of the thirty five schools that participated in the study had experienced fire disasters in the last 10 years; in all the schools that had experienced fire disasters causes were clearly known; It was concluded that: fire disasters in Vihiga are frequent and severe; that the trends as to the causes of fire disasters in the county are dynamic; most of the administrators and even teachers were not trained in fire fighting skills; most of the schools dint have safety committees and were not practicing fire drills and that most of the general requirements for fire disaster preparedness were not in place. The findings of the study will enable schools to be aware of fire hazards and empower them to reduce their vulnerability to fire disasters. It will also be important to education policy makers who will use this information in formulating and implementing policies on fire safety in schools. Keywords : Secondary schools, Fires, Hazards, Disasters, Preparedness

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