MESSAGE FROM CHIEF FIRE OFFICER OF BARBADOS – KEEP UNSAFE AND UNCONTROLLED FIRES FROM THIS CHRISTMAS
The streaming lights, the Christmas carols, the bustling crowds in Bridgetown are a dead give away that the yuletide season is here again. This is a time that evokes a great deal of chatter about the things people cherish the most. Many promises are made and the excitement created is intense. It’s a time of giving and sharing and the hope is that the season will bring with it lots of cheer, good health and prosperity.
This expectation may seem utopian. Nevertheless persons are never deterred from trying to attain it. They will spend all and in the end be spent themselves to reach their goal and meet every expectation. In this quest, however, some vulnerability is created which, if left unchecked can bring chaos instead of cheer, horror instead of happiness and poverty instead of prosperity.
Around every festive season, and especially around Christmas, people become so busy and preoccupied with expendables that they lose sight of essentials. They drop they guard and become enveloped in a cloud of complacency. They sacrifice safety considerations for convenience and hope that everything will hold together even though little attention is being paid to it.
The Barbados Fire Service is very cognisant of this reality and, therefore, takes this opportunity at this time of the year to encourage all citizens to strive to achieve the maximum good but not at the expense of any aspect of safety. Our primary concern is life safety. So we are asking that a safe environment is created and maintained for facilities which house, senior citizens, the elderly who live alone, children day care facilities, recreational facilities and shopping facilities.
Pay special attention to electrical maintenance, natural gas and liquid petroleum gas pipe work and equipment and the storage of solvents, resins, other flammable materials and household chemicals. Remember and practice the following fire safety tips to increase your chances of having a fire safe Christmas season:
- Do not overload electrical sockets
- Unplug all non-essential appliances when leaving home
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when streaming lights
- Unplug lights when no one is at home
- Do not leave open flames unsupervised
- Keep infants and toddlers out of the kitchen
- Keep matches and lighters away from children
- Do not leave children alone and unattended
- Keep live Christmas trees well watered
- Do not attempt to cook if you have been drinking, taking medication which will make you drowsy or if you are tired
- Install a smoke alarm just outside of the kitchen and in the bedroom corridors
- Store chemicals and flammable substances outside of the house in a well ventilated area
- Do not place candles near curtains or other combustible materials
- Do not smoke in bed or while lying down on a sofa
- Place cigarette ends in a deep ashtray with water
- Check the iron and stove before you leave home.
While this list of safety instructions is not exhaustive, simple adherence to it will create a win-win situation for both the general public as well as members of the Fire Service in that overall life safety will be improved, property will be preserved and the Service will continue to experience a decline in major fire call as indicated by the statistics in the table below.
|Category of Fire||December 16, 2009||December 16, 2010||December 16, 2011||% Increase|
Decrease over 09
Decrease over 10
|Sugar Canes||107||155||65||39 %||58 %|
|Private Dwelling houses||79||133||96||22 %||28 %|
|Commercial Buildings||21||28||20||5 %||29 %|
|Other Structural||46||35||22||52 %||37 %|
|Grass||834||1329||443||47 %||67 %|
|Rubbish||254||309||232||9 %||25 %|
|Total Annual Amount||2148||2889||1586||26 %||45 %|
While the statistics conveys a very encouraging picture it can all be rapidly eroded if a constant vigil is not kept over those elements which can easily create tragedy and disrupt lives.
Each one is, therefore, responsible for ensuring that the attention being currently paid to safety practices in the home and workplace is continued. It is this conscious and calculated action that will add value to the concept of a merry and peaceful Christmas.
On the behalf of the administration and all other members of the Barbados Fire Service, I take this opportunity to wish all citizens and all those who are visiting and working in our economic space, a very safe and peaceful Christmas season as well as good health and happiness for 2012.