Six schools in Jeddah hit by fires in 24-hour period

Six schools in Jeddah hit by fires in 24-hour period
Updated 27 February 2016

Six schools in Jeddah hit by fires in 24-hour period

Six schools in Jeddah hit by fires in 24-hour period

JEDDAH: Civil Defense authorities in Jeddah reported up to six fires at schools within a 24-hour period, raising questions and concerns about safety standards at schools.
However, the Department of Education in Jeddah said the limited nature of the fires, lack of injuries, and rapid response by school administrations and Civil Defense forces makes the issue “simple” in nature.
Education Director Abdullah Al-Thaqafi told a local newspaper that education officials are exerting great awareness efforts and are guaranteeing maintenance contracts, while patrol teams and hotlines are available for any emergency reports.
Civil Defense announced that it attended to six fires on Thursday at schools in Jeddah, where 19 fire-and-rescue teams were quickly dispatched to evacuate students and teachers.
The first report involved a fire in an air-conditioning unit at Primary School 12 in Hindawiya. All students were evacuated without injuries.
The other reports came from Primary School 106 in Safa, Elementary School 118 in Rabwah, Elementary School 89 in Bani Malik, and Middle School 25 in Jamia District (Kilo 6).
The most threatening report came from High School 13 in Rabwah on Wednesday, where Red Crescent teams treated 18 female students at the site suffering from panic, and transferred six others to a hospital.
The cause of the reports also included pulling the fire alarm, and sparks from electrical wires, but the incidents were not serious.
A number of parents expressed concern about the situation at schools, and said the issue must seriously be dealt with, especially as such incidents are likely to occur during the summer.
Abdullah Al-Hazazi, the parent of a student at Elementary School 106 for Girls in Hindawiya, told a local newspaper that there is tremendous complacency by officials when it comes to dealing with this matter. Another parent, Hamza Al-Harbi, said school maintenance contracts are lacking.
According to a statement to local newspapers by Civil Defense spokesman Col. Saeed bin Sarhan, the dangers of fires are not in the actual form of the fire, but rather in the steps and actions that come later.
He said suspension of the alarm can be turned into a serious incident as this may provoke fear and panic in students and teachers, whereas injuries may also result from the carbon dioxide and smoke emitted during fires.
He said a joint committee, with representatives from four concerned authorities, visits all schools in the province to identify any shortfalls in safety measures, and deals strictly with any violations inside schools. “We previously closed down private schools due to the inability of facilities to serve as schools,” he said.
Meanwhile, Al-Thaqafi said the incidents reported over the past two days were “minor” because there were no serious injuries, and says he met on Thursday with the department of buildings, safety and security to put in place a comprehensive plan for maintenance at all schools. He said maintenance teams routinely visit schools, and an awareness plan for schools is also in place.
Al-Thaqafi said the role of the Department of School Safety has helped reduce fire rates at schools, as it is a specialized authority that deals primarily with ensuring the safety of the school environment and trains students on evacuation procedures in case of fire.