The Barbados Fire Service (BFS) has changed the way it conducts inspections and responds to rescue operations as the island continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Henderson Patrick, explained that this was important as the agency still had to maintain its legal requirements, particularly as it relates to code compliance and responding to various incidents.
“It is expected that the Barbados Fire Service maintains code compliance and ensures that there is a level of life safety in environments. You cannot put that on the backburner because of the pandemic, or because of anything else,” he said, during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service.
To manage the situation, Mr. Patrick said the BFS had established additional protocols designed to protect its personnel during inspections and rescue operations.
The Deputy Fire Chief said while the BFS officials had the option of conducting inspections at establishments unannounced, under the new COVID-19 protocols, they now scheduled appointments with businesses before going to carry out inspections.
“We prefer in these times that persons have the heads up, and that when we are there, whatever protocols persons need to put in place to accommodate us, that those protocols are in place,” he stated.
He added that under the new protocols, firemen also require one dedicated person from a business to conduct the walkthrough with fire officers, while wearing a mask and sanitising hands.
Mr. Patrick said that the BFS had also put mechanisms in place to visit businesses early in the morning or after closing hours to reduce the level of interaction of its officers with customers, or persons using the facility.
In addition, he noted that they were also conducting inspections at establishments such as hotels, which were not populated at this time. “It is about reducing the level of risk to our officers and to those persons who we would interact with,” he stated.
The Deputy Fire Chief shared that protocols were also implemented to protect fire officers and members of the public when responding to incidents.
That, he said, included the wearing of masks and personal protective equipment by fire officers to ensure that there was no transmission of bodily substances.
He added that the fire officers could also provide masks to victims to ensure that no bodily substances would be passed to them via their nose or mouth.
“The safety of the personnel is the key thing, and we addressed those matters from the inception of COVID-19. From the time the pandemic had its impact on Barbados, there were certain protocols that we put in place to ensure the safety of individuals, and also to ensure that the capacity is there to respond and provide assistance to individuals when required,” Mr. Patrick stated.