The first nine months of the year 2019 has been deemed to be “significantly busier” for the ‘B’ Division (Berbice) of the Guyana Fire Service than last year. The Fire Service has recorded a total of 223 fire calls in 2018 between the period January and September, while this year saw 352 fire calls for the same period.
That brings it to a total of 575 calls. However, the outcome of the these calls are of even more importance as each time a call is received lives are risked, and there is the potential destruction of property.
Divisional Officer (DO) of ‘B’ Division attached to the Guyana Fire Service, Dwayne Scotland, during an interview with this publication, explained that fires stem from different origins.
They may be caused by carelessness, a malicious act, arson included, deliberately lit in the cases of grass and rubbish fires that get out of hand, children playing with matches and electrical aspects.
The deliberately lit fires which topped the charts, numbered 92 in 2018 and 217 in 2019 an increase of 125 fires. The DO explained that these were “rubbish heaps that were lit and went out of hand or people lighting dried grass” and the wind changed direction.
These fires were very prominent in the dry season where there was dried grass which equals an excessive amount of fuel and high winds that is an unlimited supply of oxygen. Lighting a fire that is not in controlled environments at this time is a risk as sudden wind direction change can see buildings flattening.
In information he provided to this publication, it was noted that the year 2019 did not only have the highest number of fire calls and fires, but it exceeded the previous year in all categories and tied in the number of casualties.
Electrical fires in 2018 numbered 17, while in 2019 they increased by 11 bringing the number to 28.
When asked about the reason for this spike and why these fires were so frequent. He informed that “These fires were mostly caused by negligence, persons are always leaving appliances plugged in and they often time are in the vicinity of flammables and when overheated, combustion occurs.”
The triangle of combustion is something people create while not being conscious of it. A fire needs three things to start, those being heat, fuel and oxygen. A hot iron near to an open window and a curtain presents all three of these elements and is a recipe for disaster.
There were 10 fires in 2018 and 14 in 2019 that were attributed to “pure carelessness”, while children playing with matches numbered three in 2018 and four in 2019. This is a clear case that parents need to be careful when having small children and matches in the same vicinity, Scotland said.
The next category was those fires that were maliciously lit. D.O Scotland explained that they consider malicious fires as “persons lighting houses and business on fire, it could either be their own or someone else’s.” Since they do not outright separate arson, it was covered in this area.
All of the fires in that nine month period last year saw 18 buildings destroyed, one severely damaged, 22 slightly damaged and one death, while this year saw 29 destroyed, one severely damaged, 11 slightly damaged and one death.
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