Nigeria’s largest bank by profits, Zenith Bank, suffered a fire scare in one of its branches on Wednesday, May 3, 2023.
Reports from employees of the bank who spoke to Nairametrics confirmed the incident occurred in the early hours of Wednesday. The employees spoke on the condition of anonymity as they did not have permission to comment.
Reports suggest the fire occurred when a backup power providing electricity for one of the bank’s branches housing a data center was engulfed. The incident immediately affected the bank’s customers who found it difficult to initiate or conclude transactions.
The incident essentially grounded operations bank-wide as its IT infrastructure was grounded. However, some of its banking services are now up and running after it turned on its disaster recovery measures.
The Lagos State Fire Rescue Service, who helped put out the first confirmed the incident on its Facebook Page, stating the fire occurred in one of the branches on Ajose Adeogun and occurred in a room on the ground floor housing inverter panels and batteries.
“The Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service has attended to a Fire outbreak at one of the Zenith Bank PLC branches on Ajose Adeogun Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. On arrival at the scene which was reported at 07:25 hours, it was discovered that a room on the ground floor of a four-storey building housing the alternative power source inverter panels and batteries was on flame and subsequently doused before it could spread and cause any meaningful damage.”
Meanwhile, no death or injury was recorded in the fire incident.
Zenith Bank also put out an official statement confirming the fire occurred in one of its storage centers and not the bank head office as stated by some media outlets.
“We hereby report that there was a fire incident this morning at our storage facility in Victoria Island, which is completely isolated from our Head Office Complex, and this led to a temporary power outage. We appreciate the swift response of the Federal Fire Service, Lagos State Fire Service, and Ek Hotels Fire Service that led to the swift containment of the incident. Banking services are being restored as normalcy returns. The inconveniences to our esteemed customers and other stakeholders arising from this incident are highly regretted.”
Some staff of the bank confirmed to Nairametrics that work was essentially at a standstill as many could not access their banking applications.
Zenith Bank stated in its 2023 annual report that its fire prevention and fire-fighting equipment are installed in strategic locations within the Group’s premises, while occasional fire drills are conducted to create awareness amongst staff.
It also stated that in line with ISO 22301 Standards, it has a robust documented Business Continuity Plan which protects the bank in
the event of an undesired event in the form of a fire outbreak, flood, theft or robbery, thunderstorm, unexpected breakdown of systems, networks, equipment, etc, or any other form of disaster.
This plan it says ensures that the bank recovers from disasters resulting in the partial or total loss of IT infrastructure and applications to normal business operations, in a timely, effective, and efficient manner.
The latest fire incident puts the policy to the test. Zenith Bank spent N30.9 billion on information technology in 2022 up 8% from a year earlier. IT expenses represent 9.1% of the company’s operating expenses.