Assessment of the level of school fire safety preparedness in primary and secondary boarding schools in Wakiso Districts
Background: School fire disabilities and deaths are a public health concern not only because of the increased incidences, but also the type of disability or death caused, the predominantly young population involved and the uncertainty cast on both education and health systems of the nation. Despite the many reported school fires no audit on fire safety in schools has been done. We conducted a study to assess fire safety preparedness in boarding schools located in Wakiso district. Methods: A cross sectional study using quantitative and qualitative data collection methods was conducted in 54 boarding schools in Wakiso district. All boarding schools in Wakiso district were identified and the sample selected proportionate to size. From each school the in charge of fire safety or the headmaster responded to the questionnaire. Quantitative data was collected using a structured questionnaire and an observational checklist that assessed the structural design, equipment and measures against fire. Qualitative data was collected from six focus group discussions. Fire safety preparedness was assessed using a matrix score and expressed as a percentage, the safety level was considered adequate if it was above 70%. Quantitative analysis was by Epi Info 3.5.1 and qualitative data was analyzed manually using matrix table. Results: Only 28% of boarding schools in Wakiso were prepared against fire. Compared to schools that had a day and boarding section, schools that had only a boarding section were 4.5 times more prepared against fires (OR 4.56, 95% CI: 1.12 and 18. 31). School ownership was not associated with fire safety preparedness. Inadequate financing and improper instructions were the main hindrances to school fire safety cited. Conclusion: Fire safety preparedness among boarding schools in Wakiso district was inadequate. Frequent support supervision and legislation is required to improve fire safety levels in boarding schools in Wakiso district.
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