AASoci  Vol.5 No.5 , May 2015
Review of Catastrophic Fires and Risk Communication, Ghana
Introduction: The incidence and prevalence of catastrophic fire outbreaks in Ghana appear to be very high. We wanted to review the data on the incidence and prevalence of catastrophic fires inall the administrative regions of Ghana in order to understand the situation better. It would also help to inform policy and interventions. Objective: We reviewed the statistics and other data of catastrophic fires in Ghana between 2004 and 2012. We identified the potential limitations for the existing national fire prevention system and provided suggestions for improvement. Method: We adopted the annual statistical data of the incidence of fire nationwide compiled by the National Fire Service “as is”. We relied on the Service’s field reports at the time of fire interventions and telephone and key informant interview to determine whether there was pre-event, event and post-event risk communication on the threat of fire within the affected sites. We also reviewed the National Emergency Master Plan, 1997; amended (2010) to assess whether it addressed fire emergencies. We conducted field visits to the Fire Service sub-stations within Accra City to assess the conditions on the ground. We also carried out documentary search on the internet to locate appropriate literature and summarized the findings into their respective units. Result: The result shows that catastrophic fire outbreak in Ghana occurred at least once a month at the cost of USD $16 m per year between 2004 and 2012. There is no coordinated fire risk communication and advocacy, which may have led to the low risk perception in the population affected. Discussion: The recurrence of industrial and domestic fires in Ghana suggests that the population may have low risk perception, which requires intensified public education on risk in general. Conclusion: Residents in Ghana are confronted with the existential threat of fires in all their walks of lives, which needs to be addressed. The incidence and prevalence of fire risk in Ghana should be of interests to all.

Cite this paper
Norman, I. , Awiah, B. , Aikins, M. and Binka, F. (2015) Review of Catastrophic Fires and Risk Communication, Ghana. Advances in Applied Sociology, 5, 167-177. doi: 10.4236/aasoci.2015.55016.
[1]   Amissah, L., Kyereh, B., & Agyeman, V. K. (2010). Wildfire Incidence and Management in the Forest Transition Zone of Ghana: Farmers Perspective. Ghana Journal of Forestry, 26, 61-73.

[2]   Anaglatey, B. (2013). Strengthening Leadership in Disaster Resilience Program. Accra: Personal Communication, Practitioners’ Workshop.

[3]   Baird, I. S., & Thomas, H. (1985). Toward a Contingency Model of Strategic Risk Taking. Academy of Management Review, 10, 230-243.

[4]   Brockner, J. (1992). The Escalation of Commitment to a Failing Course of Action: Toward Theoretical Progress. The Academy of Management Review, 17, 39-61.

[5]   Chandler, C., Cherrey, P., Thomas, P., Trabaud, L., & Williams, D. (1983). Fire in Forestry Vol. I. Forest Fire Behaviour and Effects. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons Inc., 171-258.

[6]   Coppola, D. (2012). Introduction to International Disaster Management (1st ed.). Burlington, MA: Butterworth and Henienmann.

[7]   Drabek, T. E. (1985). Emergency Management: The Human Factor, Monograph Series. Emmitsburg, MD: National Emergency Training Center.

[8]   Emergency Powers Act 472 (1994). Accra: Assembly Printing Press.

[9]   Fire Management Global Assessment (2007). FAO/UN Forestry Paper, 2007, 1-135.

[10]   Fischhoff, B. (1975). Hindsight Is Not Equal to Foresight: The Effect of Outcome Knowledge on Judgment under Uncertainty. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 1, 288-299.

[11]   Fischhoff, B. (1977). Perceived Informativeness of Facts. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 1, 349-358.

[12]   Fischhoff, B. (2002). Risk Perception, Risk Communication, Risk Taking. Journal of Psychology and Financial Markets, 3, 102-111.

[13]   Flynn, J., Slovic, P., Mertz, C. K., & Carlisle, C. (1999). Public Support for Earthquake Risk Mitigation in Portland, Oregon. Risk Analysis, 19, 205-216.

[14]   Ganzach, Y., Ellis, S., Pazy, A., & Ricci-Siag, T. (2008). On the Perception and Operationalization of Risk Perception. Journal of Judgment and Decision Making, 3, 317-324.

[15]   Ghana National Fire Service (1997). Act 537.

[16]   Glik, D. C. (2007). Risk Communication for Public Health Emergencies. Annual Review of Public Health, 28, 33-54.

[17]   Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, GFDRR (2002). World Bank, Washington DC.

[18]   Harper Collins Publishing (2000). Collins English Dictionary, Complete and Unabridged (10th ed.). London: William Collins Sons and Co, Ltd.

[19]   Hawthorne, W. D. (1994). Fire Damage and Forest Regeneration in Ghana. Forestry Inventory and Management Project of the Ghana Forestry Department, ODA Forestry Series No. 4, 1-18.

[20]   Holloway, A., & Rooomey, R. (2008). Weathering the Storm: Participatory Risk Assessment for Informal Settlements. Cape Town: University of Cape Town, Periperi Publications.

[21]   International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) (2006). International Standards Recommended Practices, Airclaims/ 24913/VMC/6: 2: 2006, Airport Audit. ISRP, Vol. 1:118/ISRP, Annex 14, 1999. Accra: Aviation Library, Kotoka International Airport.

[22]   Korem, A. (1985). Bush Fire and Agricultural Development in Ghana. Accra: Ghana Publishing Corporation, 122-158.

[23]   Kotoka International Airport (2006/2007) Emergency Preparedness Plan and Procedures (pp. 1-98). Accra: Aviation Library, Kotoka International Airport.

[24]   Longworth, E. (2013). Press Release, International Strategy for Disaster Risk Secretariat, Nairobi, 14th March, 2013.

[25]   McEntire, D. A., & Myers, A. (2004). Preparing Communities for Disasters: Issues and Processes for Government Readiness. Disaster Prevention and Management, 13, 140-152.

[26]   Merchant Bank (2014) Inter-Bank Exchange, Ghana.

[27]   National Disaster Management Organization (1996). Act 517 of 1996.

[28]   National Disaster Management Organization (1997). National Disaster Management Plan, 1997 as (Amended 2010). HQ, Kanda, Accra, Ghana.

[29]   Nigg, J. M. (1982). Awareness and Behavior: Public Response to Prediction Awareness. In T. F. Saarinen (Ed.), Perspectives on Increasing Hazard Awareness (p. 138). Boulder, CO: Institute of Behavioral Science, the University of Colorado.

[30]   Norman, D. (1988). The Psychology of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books, 140.

[31]   Oteng-Ababio, M., & Sarpong, A. O. (2013). Prevention Is Better than Cure: Assessing Ghana’s Preparedness (Capacity) for Disaster Management. Journal of Disaster Risk Studies, 5.

[32]   Pelling, M., & Wisner, B. (Eds.) (2008). Disaster Risk Reduction: Cases from Urban Africa. London: Earthscan Publication.

[33]   Perry, R. W., & Lindell, M. K. (1991). The Effects of Ethnicity on Evacuation Decision-Making. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 9, 47-68.

[34]   Petak, W. J. (1985). Emergency Management: A Challenge for Public Administration. Public Administration Review, 45, 3-6.

[35]   Petak, W. L., & Atkinson, A. A. (1982). Natural Hazard Risk Assessment and Public Policy: Anticipating the Unexpected. New York: Springer-Verlag.

[36]   Quarantelli, E. L. (1989). How Individuals and Groups React during Disaster: Planning and Managing Implications for EMS Delivery. Preliminary Paper No. 138, Newark, DE: Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware.

[37]   Reason, J. (1990). Human Error. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[38]   Slovic, P. (2000). Informing and Educating the Public about Risk. In P. Slovic (Ed.), The Perception of Risk (pp. 192-198). Sterling, VA: Earthscan.

[39]   Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. Science, 185, 1124-1131.

[40]   United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) (2012) World Population Prospects, 2010 Revision.

[41]   Waugh Jr., W. L., & Hy, J. (Eds.) (1990). Introduction to Emergency Management. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1-10.

[42]   Wayne-Blanchard, B. (2003). The New Role of Higher Education in Emergency Management. American Journal of Emergency Management, 1, 30-34.