– immediate action proposed
By Zena Henry
The Fire Department has warned against mass gatherings in City Hall’s building after formally notifying the agency’s Executive and Administrative arms that the building is “unsafe” and “constitutes a serious fire hazard.”
Following a fire prevention inspection carried out less than two weeks ago, the fire agency said that in the interest of “Life and Fire Safety” the building is “dangerous”. Some 18 hazardous conditions were identified, and 24 recommendations including general changes were advised.
During the inspection, “loose and hanging electrical wires in various parts of the building were observed, the building’s Rising Main is out of order, sections of the flooring in the Council Chambers need urgent repairs; the Fire Escape (staircase) at the southern section of the building is in a deplorable state and out of order. The metal staircase at the eastern section of the building shows deterioration due to the age of the structure, and portions of the staircase also have cracks where it is attached to the metal strings.
No Fire Detection System was provided for the building, the roof of the building indicates pores due to a large tarpaulin observed on the floor in the Party Hall; preventing water from entering the other floors. The Party Hall is in a state of disrepair and should not be used for the holding of any activities, unless urgent repairs are done.
Sections of the internal staircase, leading to the first and second floors of the building, are in a deteriorated state. Portions of the ceiling in the Mayor’s Parlour are in a derelict state. The electrical panel switch at the northern section of the building is in a deteriorated state; walls at the northern and western sections of the building are deplorable and need urgent replacement.
An adequate fire protection system was not provided for the building. The corridor located at the eastern section of the building appears to be structurally unsafe. No emergency warning system was provided and the building since construction has never been rewired, which poses a serious threat.
Recommendations suggest that loose and hanging electrical wires found in various parts of the building be rectified by a competent electrician. The rising main attached to the building must be tested and made operable as early as possible. The damaged section of flooring within the Council Chambers must be replaced and the fire escape staircase at the southern section of the building must be repaired and made operable.
The metal staircase at the eastern section of the building must be repaired; electronic Smoke Detectors must be provided and sited on the ceiling in each of the offices on each floor, so as to give warning in the event of an outbreak.
Urgent repairs must be conducted on the roof of the building, and warnings are that if the roof remains in its current state it can compromise the electrical works of the building, especially the electrical panel boxes, which can come into contact with water.
The Party Hall on the top floor must be repaired urgently and in the interim labeled “Out of Order” until repairs are finished. The perimeter beams around the building must be replaced due to their current state; the damaged portion of ceiling sited on the Mayor’s Parlour must be replaced; the building must be inspected by the Government Electrical Inspectors’ Department in order to determine the state of the electrical works in the building.
The entire outdoor walls of the building must be replaced urgently; the eastern corridor must be repaired so as to make traversing safer.
General recommendations suggest suitable Fire Alarm Systems, giving sufficient audible warning throughout the building. Actuation switches or call points must be strategically sited at least 1.4 metres from floor level with not less than four points or switches on each floor. This system must be so connected that on actuation of any point or switch will cause the alarm bells to sound.
All final exits (doors) must be constructed to open (outwards) along the line of exit travel. ‘Fire Points’ throughout the building must be numbered and lettered white in colour, at least 150mm in height with red backgrounds.
Precise instructions with regard action to be taken in the event of a fire must be prominently displayed on the walls throughout the building. Directional arrows indicating the way to all final exits (doors) must be conspicuously displayed on the walls throughout the building.
The electrical installation must be done in conformity with the regulations of the Government Electrical Inspectors’ Department. Efforts must be made for all staff to be trained in the operation of firefighting equipment (Fire Extinguishers) and evacuation procedures and fire extinguishers must be hung on brackets or placed on their stands.”
City Hall has spoken extensively about necessary repairs for the building which has been identified as one of the most beautiful colonial structures in the Caribbean. However in-house fighting and government interference has delayed this for years, Mayor Hamilton Green and Councillors say.
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