Almost all (98%) of the factories in Turkey are located in earthquake zones and factory fires caused by quakes pose a risk as great as the earthquakes themselves, according to Professor Abdurrahman Kilic who is regarded as the country's foremost expert on fire. He is also a founding member of Turkey Fire Protection and Education Foundation (TUYAK).
He said that even where an earthquake does not damage a building in an instant, other risks can happen, such as explosions caused by leaking gases during the earthquake, cracks in pipelines and natural gas installations, as well as fire from candles, open flames such as fireplaces, and electrical installations.
In the wake of an earthquake, broken roads and broken pipes prevent access to fire and make it difficult for for firefighters to extinguish it. Even when firefighters reach the fire, they might not be able to find water.
Prof Kilic said that fire risk following an earthquake is also present in dwellings. He said that children should be taught which valve to turn to shut off the gas and which circuit breaker to be switched off.
Referring to fires in general, he said that the main reason that factory fires occur is that maintenance and repair work is not carried out in time or according to standards. Arson is another cause, and is estimated to be behind 12% of all fires.
Prof Kilic also pointed out that only 40% of burned factories were found to have been covered by insurance. He said, “Fire insurance in our country should be made compulsory for buildings such as factories and hotels.”