Chairman of the Fire Advisory Board, Rajendra Singh is calling for the creation and implementation of a new electrical and building code, as well as the removal of dilapidated buildings in and around Georgetown.
Singh was at the time addressing a gathering of business people, during a training session last week at the Everest Cricket Club Pavilion.
He said that faulty and outdated electrical wiring, overloaded electrical systems, poor storage arrangements, noncompliance with building codes, increased fire loads and insufficient fire protection systems as being the most common causes of fires.
The training was held in collaboration with the Guyana Fire Service, Hand in Hand, and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).
Hand in Hand representative, Matthew Kissoon, said that while the physical loss is measurable, the emotional scars and life-long agony of relatives and friends of those who have perished cannot be calculated.
Kissoon said that many fires could have been prevented. They were caused by carelessness, recklessness and in some cases lack of common sense. He added that many times children are left unattended, electricity is used in an unsafe manner; and in some cases properties are destroyed by the malicious use of fire by persons—arson.
President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, Clinton Urling, said that while Guyana cannot afford the waste of human and other resources, the very brutal fact remains that every time a fire gets out of control, people face the very real danger of serious injuries or death.
He noted that the capacity of the Guyana Fire Service needs to be enhanced. Urling believes that although the process of inspection of buildings can be time consuming, policy makers have a substantial role to play in the process.
Mr. Urling said that private companies have a major role to play in the entire process of fire prevention, by ensuring they fully comply with electrical and building regulations.
It was also reiterated that The Mayor and City Council needs to efficiently identify and remove derelict buildings in and around the city, because if simple fire prevention measures are adopted, they will shape the future of fire safety.
The Chamber is calling for full compliance by all businesses with respect to adhering to the building and fire codes, observing the maximum occupancy of buildings, maintaining proper fire exits and exit signage, placing and maintaining fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in easily accessible places, and maintaining fire alarm systems for detection and warning of fires.
In addition, training occupants of buildings on the proper use of the equipment and conducting regular fire drills is also vital.
Fire Chief, Marlon Gentle, is of the view that greater vigilance from all Guyanese is needed to ensure fire safety. He said that public education is the strongest pillar of fire prevention.
The Guyana Fire Service and The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry strongly agree that fire safety is everyone’s business.
To this end, the Guyana Fire Service is continuing its expansion programme with a new training facility currently being constructed at Leonora, West Coast Demerara.
The Hinterland Community Fire Prevention Programme is underway. Eight new “fully manned” stations are also expected to be constructed in 2014, to serve several areas.
Gentle promised that the Guyana Fire Service will receive additional tenders and water tankers to boost its current fleet, with increased water-carrying capacity for areas where such resources are limited.
At the training, Gentle indicated the fire service’s willingness to work with the business community, so as to ensure that all fire prevention measures are identified and complied with.
Gentle also reiterated its readiness to conduct inspections of premises free of cost in accordance with the Fire Prevention Act.
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