EVALUATION OF FIRE SAFETY MEASURES AT LOCAL UNIVERSITIES IN KENYA WITH REFERENCE TO FIRE RISK REDUCTION RULES LN.59, 2007
Keywords:Fire safety, legislation, awareness, compliance, policies, universities
Fire-related accidents often result in injuries and sometimes death, which can be prevented through compliance to legislation and public awareness on fire safety. This study establishes fire safety measures in place in local universities in Kenya, and compared the compliance status between private and public universities on essential fire safety measures based on the stipulations of the fire risk reduction Rules, LN 59 of 2007. Data was collected using questionnaires from seven universities (three public and four private) targeting a sample size of 481 respondents. Site inspections were also conducted. The average duration worked by the respondents was significantly different with 53% of staff in the public universities having worked over 8 years at the universities as compared to 30% in the private universities. This had no significant effect on the levels of fire safety awareness amongst the staff as none of the institutions had formal policies and programmes on fire safety. More than 74% (n=481) of employees were not aware on any fire training programmes in place with no significant difference in both categories (χ2 = 3.72; p> 0.05, df = 2). Failure to conduct regular fire evacuation drills was common to both categories (χ2 = 3.16; p> 0.05, df = 2). The study found that the workplaces were adequately equipped with Fire exits signs (98%), fire extinguishers (99%), hose reels (82%) and had fire action procedures posted (88%). Despite the selected public and private universities having a mean existence of 47 years and 14.25 years respectively, there is equally low compliance with the requirement to provide emergency lighting, automatic fire suppression systems, fire detection and alarm systems and fire Hydrants. Private universities however complied marginally better than public universities on the installation of these essential equipment as they have relatively newer premises that have been constructed in compliance with current building codes. The study recommends the development of comprehensive fire safety policies and programs that will cover prevention, protection and emergency response backed by university management endorsement and support. The Directorate of occupational safety and health services should also make the public aware of these rules through regular training, outreach programs and enforcement.