Oct 06, 2021 News
– In wake of Brickdam Police Station’s Inferno
Kaieteur News has been able to confirm that Guyana’s Fire Chief, Kalamadeen Edoo has been sent on leave days after the Head-of-State, Dr. Irfaan Ali had criticised the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) following Saturday’s massive fire that destroyed the Brickdam Police Station.
Speaking with Kaieteur News yesterday, Edoo confirmed the development and said that he will be proceeding on a 21-day vacation leave. The move to send Edoo on accumulated leave was first made known by Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn.
However, with regard to reports circulating that the Fire Chief is at the moment unsure if he will return to his post when the leave is up, Edoo said, “that is not true.” In fact, he told this newspaper that he will resume duties after his leave ends on October 27.
Following the inferno at the Brickdam Police Station on Saturday, politicians from both side of the political divide, including persons who were on the ground when the fire erupted, opined that GFS could have done much better to contain the devastating blaze.At the scene, Kaieteur News was told by some officers that firefighters took some 20 to 30 minutes to respond to the fire.
One of them said, “When we call, the fire was just a lil smoke you de seeing coming from one section of the building but they reach hay like 20 minutes later and by time they reach, the thing de done big big aready.”
Others criticised that firefighters were also ill-prepared to battle the blaze with low pressure hose and limited water resource.
The President himself was among those who criticised GFS for being unable to respond properly to the fire. During a visit he made to the scene on Sunday, he told the press that he was disappointed in the GFS response to the fire and said, “I am publicly putting the Fire Service on warning… this cannot and will not be tolerated.”
He had further added that hundreds of millions of dollars were spent in the last year to boost the Fire Service’s response capabilities and “to put it crudely, you cannot respond to a fire in your backyard.”
Ali continued that the government cannot continue to make investments in the Public Service and not get returns.
He had opined that the Fire Service response to the Brickdam fire on Saturday had nothing to do with assets and resources but the unpreparedness by the service.
“Based on the type of calls I received…they were unable to take action because of their state of readiness. I want to assure the public that I have heard them and we are going to examine the response from the Fire Service in its totality,” the President had said.
Ali had also made a strong statement that if persons don’t want to work for the Public Sector, then they should do the honourable thing and resign.
Kaieteur News yesterday had further asked Edoo for a comment in response to the criticisms his department is currently facing but up to press time, he was yet to reply.
Former Fire Chief, Marlon Gentle had told reporters in January this year that one of the problems that GFS faces when responding to fires close to the Stabroek Market Area is the lengthy time it takes to clear the congested streets especially around the Central Fire Station.
Gentle had made this statement while he was still the Fire Chief, at the scene of a fire in January that had gutted a section of the Fogarty’s building located on Water Street, less than half a mile away from the Central Fire Station.
The Fire Service had taken some eight minutes to respond to that fire and according to Gentle most of that time was used to clear the congested streets leading to the area.
To remedy this problem, part of the $1.9B that was allocated to GFS in this year’s budget will be used to decentralize the fire station and relocate it to Home Stretch Avenue.
Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, had announced in June that the proposed location for the relocation is the Durban Park Area but to date, it is still to become a reality.
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