Under the Fire Prevention Act, Chapter 22:01, an advisory board is to be established for the purpose of making recommendations to the Minister of Public Security on matters pertaining to fires.
The Guyana Fire Advisory Board (GFAB) is responsible for among other things, inspections of fire stations and, based on evaluations, making reports to the Public Security Minister, on measures that can be used to improve safety.
The Board should consist of nine members, including from the Guyana Fire Service, (GFS) the Guyana National Bureau of Standards, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Mayor and City Council, the Central Housing and Planning Authority, the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Ex-firemen’s Association and the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association.
The GFAB has lifespan of one year, in which it is expected to carry out its mandate.
However, GFAB Chairman, Phillip Smith has noted that the newly installed board has met twice and is mulling over its plan for this year. After a two-year hiatus, the work of the GFAB was reconstituted in May of this year.
Smith that explained that, with the board restored, considerations are being made as to whether the tenure of one year is sufficient for the board to effectively execute its duties.
“Certainly at a glance, a year appears to be not enough time for the GFAB to pull together all its activities. As Chairman of the board, consideration for an extended work tenure is certainly on the agenda.”
Meanwhile, Phillips noted that efforts are underway to ensure that there are adequate terms of reference within which the committee will function.
“At this stage, we are drafting a work plan and looking at what are some of the urgent matters that need to be addressed, since we will have to make recommendations to the Minister of Public Security on such matters,” Phillips said.
The Fire Safety Board was established in 2006. Since then, GFAB has lobbied 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 to these, the board recommended training occupants of buildings on the proper use of the fire safety equipment by conducting regular fire drills.
In the past, the GFAB had also called on the Mayor and City Council to efficiently identify and remove derelict buildings in and around the city.
The board had recommended for the creation and implementation of a new Electrical and Building Code. The GFAB had cited that faulty and outdated electrical wiring, overloaded electrical systems, poor storage arrangements, non-compliance with building codes, increased fire loads, and insufficient fire protection systems were among the most common causes of fires.
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