The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has advised Nigerians against the use of substandard electrical materials in building houses to avoid fire outbreaks.

The Coordinator of NEMA Owerri Operations Office, Dr Innocent Ezeaku, said in Owerri on Wednesday that fire disasters had now become a national emergency.

“The agencies responsible for regulation and enforcement of the building code should give closer monitoring to those erecting buildings so as to ensure that they comply with the laid-down standard.

“Failure to comply with the building code should also be visited with severe sanctions and prosecution.”

He expressed regret that resources that could have been used for development were being channelled to the provision of relief materials, rebuilding and reconstruction of damaged assets as a result of fire disasters.

Ezeaku advised that inflammable substances should not be stored in public places, vehicles and homes, to prevent fire outbreaks.

He called on all relevant agencies to equip major markets with functional fire stations to enable fire fighters respond promptly during emergencies.

“People must cultivate the habit of switching off all electrical appliances after the day’s work, especially in markets and offices.

“Distributors of gas cylinders should educate buyers on safety measures in its use while smoke detectors and fire alarms should be installed in all homes.

“Those who are found guilty of deliberately indulging in acts that can lead to fire outbreak should be prosecuted,” he said.

The NEMA coordinator urged government to discourage the building of filling stations in residential areas and that those currently in residential areas be relocated.

He urged the Federal Road Safety Corps to ensure that every vehicle on the road had a fire extinguisher.