Oct 13, 2015 News
The Guyana Fire Service has been operating in overdrive mode in recent weeks with much of its manpower being focused on battling grass fires. Many of these grass fires are the result of persons starting them and then leaving them unattended.
This state of affairs is especially troubling to Fire Chief Marlon Gentle, who in an invited comment, yesterday, told this publication, that while Guyana isn’t known for having a fire season per se, “This however seems to be a period when many people start to get careless.”
He acknowledged that there have been many grass fires and bush fires some of which have resulted in damage to property.
“These fires have been damaging people’s fences, damaging people’s bridges; they have burn a couple of utilities poles too,” informed the Fire Chief.
“People should desist from burning, especially in these open vegetations, and leave them unattended; they can use other means of clearing their lands. People are burning their grasslands so that fresh grass could grow for their cattle and so on…If they have to do this…this is really not the time for that because of this dry weather,” said Gentle.
He added that at the locations where a number of these fires occur there is limited access to water. The water levels of canals within proximity have become depleted due to the prevailing dry weather pattern.
“People have to be very cautious because these fires could get out of hand easily and spread to buildings in some cases,” asserted the Fire Chief.
He said that an investigation into a recent fire at Crane Housing Scheme, West Coast Demerara that destroyed a two-flat house was able to confirm that it was caused by a lighted kerosene stove that was left unattended. The stove was situated in the kitchen of the bottom flat of the Lot 75 Crane Housing Scheme, West Coast Demerara domicile.
The fire, which occurred in the wee hours of Friday last, has left four persons homeless including Patrick Whyte and his reputed wife, Camille Daniels, who resided in the upper flat. Two tenants resided in the bottom flat.
When the Fire Service arrived on the scene of the recent fire, strategic tactics were employed to help contain the fire since there was no chance of saving the building. There were some criticisms regarding the response time of the Fire Service.
Gentle, during an earlier interview with this publication, assured that the Fire Service when summoned is usually able to respond as efficiently as possible.
“I think that we have been doing our job. We cannot undo what was already done prior to arriving. Remember, a fire has to start before the fire service is alerted,” Gentle asserted.
He had, even then, pointed out that because fire engines cannot respond swiftly with their capacity volume of water, there is a crucial need for firefighters to make use of waterways in the areas where fires occur. On the morning of the recent fire, firefighters were seen trying to access water from a nearby gutter.
But according to Gentle, there are times when the available water sources are inaccessible. He therefore emphasised the need for efforts to be made to examine the location of water sources.
“When these canals are at the back of a house how can people get to them? We can’t drive a truck through a dam or a house to access the canals there, and that is a limitation in itself to our firefighting efforts. I think people believe we can run a long hose about 40 feet away…These things have limitations and so we have to be close to access these canals.”
He noted that while the efforts were made to invest in tankers, these are located close to fire stations, and he explained, “You can’t send a tanker (full with water) till over the river or till from Leonora. What time will it reach? Those tankers are very heavy…We wouldn’t send them long distances and run the risk of getting them into an accident,” he informed.
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