The Barbados Fire Service (BFS) has issued an appeal to homeowners and residents to exercise more care at home, and conduct safety checks on all appliances.
Acting Chief Fire Officer, Henderson Patrick, issued this appeal, stating that residential fires continue to be the focus of the administration as it fought to reduce the number annually.
He noted that within recent years, residential fires ranged between 60 and 80 annually, an average of six fires per month, or one per week.
“Those numbers are cause for great concern as six house fires in a month means six families without shelter and clothing and countless people within the community left to deal with the shock, psychological and social fall out,” he said.
He pointed out that between January 1 and September 13, 2020, there were 56 residential, 18 structural, and five derelict building fires, while for all of 2019, there were 61 residential, 31 structural, and 15 derelict building fires.
The Acting Fire Chief expressed concern about the number of these fires occurring before the Christmas season, when there is usually a spike in residential fires, which are caused by increased activities involving open flames, increased use of electrical appliances, decorative items, human complacency and negligence.
He added that investigations also revealed that the majority of residential fires continue to occur in St. Michael, which is a worrying trend for the BFS due to the close proximity of homes contributing to the rapid spread of fire.
Mr. Patrick said that in 2017, 29 of the 78 residential fires occurred in St. Michael; 30 of the 72 in 2018; and 21 out of 61 in 2019. So far this year, 34 of the 56 residential fires have occurred in St. Michael.
He noted that as a result of the multiple responses to residential fires during September, an appeal is being made to homeowners and other occupants to exercise more care and watchfulness while at home.
“Unplug all non-essential electrical appliances; check and unplug fans; check and ensure the stove is turned off; shut off gas cylinders; and check to ensure that you do not leave laptop computers lying on a combustible material while charging,” he said.
The Acting Fire Chief further advised residents to ensure that young children were always supervised and ignition sources kept out of their reach. “Bear in mind that with more members of the family being at home at the same time and more frequently because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a greater demand placed on your electrical supply,” Mr. Patrick said.
He further urged homeowners to have the electrical wiring in their home checked on a regular basis to safeguard the lives and properties of all involved.
“This is an appeal to all of our citizens and the community at large, to join with the Barbados Fire Service in building a firewall around all of our communities. If we do not work together to protect our communities, who will? We are all in this together. We will do our part, but you must do yours as well for the safe and successful outcome we all desire and deserve,” Mr. Patrick urged.