The recently launched Benny the Fire Cat is on a mission to raise awareness about fire safety among children.
The animated video depicts Benny the Fire Cat, a hero cat, in a village setting saving the lives of his counterparts, while bringing messages of fire safety.
Speaking during the virtual launch of the production, Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, stressed that fire safety was a priority issue, which had the full support of his ministry.
“I pledge my support to this initiative of the Barbados Fire Service and future fire safety initiatives as we seek to make Barbados a safer place to live, and to reduce the number of people losing their homes to fires annually,” he said.
Mr. Abrahams added that since assuming the role of Minister of Home Affairs, and seeing the statistics regarding residential fires, he now had a better understanding as to why fire officers were so passionate about finding new ways about bringing the message of fire safety to residents.
The Minister further noted that the production, done through a collaboration with the Barbados Fire Service (BFS) and the Media Resource Department (MRD), under the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, caused him to look at the department in a new light.
“The Barbados Fire Service is a very modern and forward thinking department. This is demonstrated through their well-coordinated internal and external training programmes; their website, where anyone can easily access forms for inspections, courses and burn permits; a fully functioning intranet, which keeps officers aware of department matters, and an ever growing presence on several social media platforms.
“These initiatives clearly show the makings of a department that is creative, innovative and decisive, as it ensures the fire safety message is tailored to reach every stratum of society,” he said.
Chief Fire Officer of the BFS, Errol Maynard, explained that Benny the Fire Cat was a concept developed 20 years ago and became a mascot, which had now evolved into a living entity.
He gave the assurance that the administration of the BFS would do all in its power to reach every resident and visitor to Barbados with fire and life safety messages.
Noting that in the past, the BFS used television, radio shows, The Firewall programme and lectures to businesses and community groups to spread its messages, Mr. Maynard admitted that these were all pitched to the mature adult.
However, he stressed that to have a greater impact and create a community of safety conscious citizens, there was a need to start with children.
“If the children are safety conscious, they will grow up to be safety conscious adults. I believe ‘Benny’ will soon become a household name and a tool to promote fire and life safety among the young children,” he said.
The Fire Chief added that Benny would enhance the BFS’ messages of life safety and code enforcement across a range of media to reach multiple audiences.
He commended the team from the Fire Prevention and Code Enforcement Unit and the BFS’ Research and Planning Unit, along with the MRD for the work done in bringing Benny the Fire Cat to life.
Meanwhile, Benny the Fire Cat told those logged on to the virtual launch that “fire safety starts with you and me”.