Assessing Social Vulnerability to Fire Hazards at the Kumasi Central Market, Ghana

Assessing Social Vulnerability to Fire Hazards at the Kumasi Central Market, Ghana

Dacosta Aboagye (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana), Samuel Adu-Prah (Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, USA) and Christabel E. Ansah (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJAGR.2018100104

Abstract

This article describes how social vulnerability indicators can assist with informing fire disaster relief preparations. Fire outbreaks at the Kumasi Central Market in Ghana have become an annual event. About 27 fire disasters were recorded between 2007 and 2016. This article uses a spatially-centered approach to assess human vulnerability to fire risk at the location. The study used a geographic information system to compliment indicators of vulnerability to assess the level of fire risk and adaptive capacities. Mixed method approach was also used to collect survey data from traders and emergency response agencies. Data sets were analyzed using SPSS and ArcGIS. The study revealed that: most of the damaging fires occur during the dry season; fire hydrants in the market are insufficient and inaccessible; and there are low levels of awareness on fire risk and weak adaptive capacities. The article recommends provision of more fire hydrants and mass education on disaster risk prevention. Also, the market must be reconstructed with fire resistant materials and designed to make it more accessible to fire emergency response.
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Conceptualizing The Nexus Of Social Vulnerability And Fire Hazards

Scholars from different knowledge domains and diverse communities of practice conceptualize vulnerability in very different ways. According to Kasperson & Kaperson (2005), the choice of definition of vulnerability may depend on its suitability for a particular hazard and its interpretation for policy or action. Vulnerability is “the conditions that make an individual or a system susceptible to experience harm as a consequence of an external shock” (Müller et al., 2011). It is also the propensity of exposed elements such as human beings, their livelihoods and assets to suffer adverse effects when impacted by events (Cardona et al., 2012). To understand how vulnerability is generated in the Kumasi Metropolis, the models of Turner et al., (2003) and Birkmann et al., (2013) were adapted and applied (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Risk-Hazard Model of Vulnerability to Fire Hazards (Source: Adapted from Turner et al. (2003); Birkmann et al. (2013))

IJAGR.2018100104.f01

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