Over 75 buildings destroyed by fire
Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan
Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan

…$111M set aside for new fire stations, fire tenders

CITIZENS are being urged to take precautionary measures to protect themselves and properties from fires, as the Guyana Fire Service observes National Fire Prevention Week — the country’s 42nd observance.

Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, in his message, said there must be a “conscientious effort by all to do what is necessary to avert, in every way possible, the outbreaks of fire in our surroundings.”

So far for the year, 75 buildings have been destroyed by fire, while 17 were severely damaged. Most of the fires involved dwelling houses. Fires have resulted in the loss of 24 lives, and a number of persons being left homeless.

“Certainly, these fires have left scars on the lives and the minds of persons affected, and by extension their families and communities,” said the minister.

The number of fires that have occurred this year has caused the Government to invest some $30M to begin the first phase of constructing two new fire stations — at Melanie Damishana, East Coast Demerara (ECD) and at Lethem in Region 9. An additional $83M will be spent to acquire more fire-fighting tenders and water bowsers.

The Ministry of Public Security is partnering with the Ministry of Public Health to expand emergency medical services utilizing a larger fleet of ambulances and personnel to cover the entire country. The first phase is to become operational next month.

“The auxiliary arm of the Guyana Fire Service will be activated to give support to the regular Fire Service when necessary,” Minister Ramjattan has said. He said the Fire Service is making every effort to ensure that Guyanese are made aware of preventative measures.

“It requires, for example, that house-holders ensure that all precautions are taken in their homes; that the business community must invest in smoke-detection and fire-extinguishing equipment, as well as ensure they are abiding with all the safety regulations (regarding) storage of goods etc; that Government agencies implement all safety and fire prevention regulations; that the entertainment sector ensures that entrances and exits are unencumbered for their guests, and provide fire detection and extinguishing equipment,” the Minister said in his message.

Minister Ramjattan is urging citizens to desist from stealing or tampering with electricity, because there is a likelihood that a fire can occur from that practice; leaving young children alone at home with access to items such as matches and lighters; as well as leaving cooking activities unattended, among other things.

“Large corporate and industrial entities should ensure that a fire safety professional is appointed to do regular checks and provide daily monitoring and evaluation of new fire precautious on site,” he said.

The Guyana Fire Service will be expanding its public campaign with the aim of reaching more persons across the country through the media. It is hoped that the programmes relative to the public campaign bear fruit.

Fires have an economic, social and emotional impact on those affected, and on the country as a whole. As such, the minister noted, the consequences of fires have contributed negatively to the country’s social and economic well-being.

“Quite a large number of varying types of fires have left a considerable toll on our society in terms of lives lost, properties destroyed and damaged, and many of our citizens being rendered homeless and jobless… One cannot underestimate the economic, social, and even emotional impact that would have occurred as a result of this destructive element,” he stated.

The theme for Fire Prevention Week 2016, ‘Fire Safety, A Collective Responsibility for the Preservation of Life and Property’, is indicative of a need for every citizen to take cognizance of his/her roles and responsibilities regarding fire safety. This should not be seen as the responsibility of the Guyana Fire Service alone, but as that of everyone.

Several activities have been planned across the country to commemorate Fire Prevention Week, which stated on October 9.


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