The tragedy this week in which 20 young girls were burned to death in a fire at their dormitory at Buddo Junior School, has brought into sharp focus the inadequacy of Ugandan laws in securing the population against fire accidents. Although various municipal building standards require real estate developers and property owners to ensure that their buildings have fire escapes and fire fighting equipment, enforcement of these regulations is weak and the standards are unmonitored. It doesn't help that the police fire brigade has only four fire trucks and 55 trained personnel. The only retractable ladder for fighting fires in high rise buildings that was purchased in 1982 has deteriorated to a state of disrepair. Lawrence Adima, the Chief Fire Officer, says the situation is complicated by the absence of a comprehensive law on fire safety. He explains that one fire safety law would simplify, rationalize and consolidate existing fire safety legislation. One law would not only ensure stricter compliance, but would also hold property owners liable in case of avoidable accidents. //Cue in: iThe fire safety laws #i Cue out: i# is that mess.i// Fire safety regulations in Kampala require that property developers present their building plans to the fire brigade before and after construction to ensure that it is guaranteed against obvious risk from fire accidents. Adima says all major commercial and residential premises are required to hold fire drills every four months, but only the Bank of Uganda, Sheraton Kampala Hotel and major embassy buildings comply with this regulation.