My fellow Barbadians, visiting friends and investors, on behalf of the administration of the Barbados Fire Service we thank you for the manner in which you have behaved towards fire and life safety over the past eleven months of this year.

The attitude, for many of you, towards fire and life safety is commendable.

Many of you have worked with us and have put the necessary mechanisms in place to make your homes, businesses and workplaces safer for your families, staff and customers.

The efforts you have made show that as a nation we are maturing. Although there has been a significant reduction in the number of calls to incidents, we are still not comfortable with the numbers. ??

From January 1 to November 30, 2014, we responded to 15 incidents at commercial buildings; 64 electrical; 1, 382 grass; 56 motor vehicles; 18 other structural; 93 private dwelling (houses); 349 rubbish and 133 cane fires.

As of November 30, 2015, we responded to: 20 incidents at commercial buildings; 39 electrical; 837 grass; 37 motor vehicles; 20 other structural; 75 private dwelling (houses); 338 rubbish and 59 cane fires.??Overall the department responded to 2,098 incidents up to the end of November 2015, compared to 2,777 for 2014.

We believe that this reduction is not only as a result of our being out there, being more vigilant and executing a more focused education programme, but we also believe that it is as a result of you the public listening to our messages and accepting your individual responsibility as good citizens of Barbados.

You have done well thus far. Let us now do even better as the Christmas season approaches.??This message is not a Christmas message; this message is to commend you and to give you some encouragement and guidance on how to do better going forward. Whether it is Christmas or not, safety is important and your safety is your business and our priority.

We therefore encourage you to play it safe as you celebrate during the Christmas season and into the New Year. We are also encouraging you to play it safe by not drinking and driving. Play it safe by driving within the speed limits and adopt a defensive driving posture.

Thus far for the year, the Barbados Fire Service responded to 88 motor vehicle accidents which resulted in significant injuries and loss of life. This is compared to 48 for the same period in 2014. While we are not apportioning any blame or cause, it is better to be safe and prevent than to be careless and repent. We therefore implore you:

Don???t drink and drive and if you have to drink don???t drive; don???t cook or operate cooking equipment while under the influence of mind altering substances, alcohol, etc.; keep clean in and around your homes but avoid burning the rubbish.

It is better and advisable to bag your rubbish and put it out to be collected. Burning is not only dangerous, but it also impacts on the environment in which we live and it can be a nuisance and health hazard to your neighbours.

In adiition, install smoke detectors in your homes, and if you already have them, check to see if the batteries are good and the device is working and do not??overload electrical circuits or allow little children, who will soon be on holidays, to be without proper supervision and have access to matches.

To you the business owners/managers and operators, I give some of you a passing grade for adhering to the law or regulations and ensuring that your workers and customers are safe.??Let us continue the good work, and for you who have been falling behind in your responsibilities, it is not too late. You need to make your establishment safe and get certified now.

Do not allow the joys of the Season to blur your minds to safety. Do not for a few gains endanger the life and well-being of our families, friends and customers. Do not allow a Season of joy to turn to a life of regret. Think safety!

As we are all aware the demand at Christmas is much greater than any other time of the year so we cannot afford to drop the ball. Therefore, you are reminded not to overload your stores at this time ??? too many people in a store at any time is dangerous; and not to overstock your store ??? you need to have proper and adequate corridors between shelves for the customers to travel and exit if necessary.

In addition,??install your early warning equipment and exit signs – audible and visual for those with visual or hearing disabilities; have your fire extinguishers checked by a qualified person and ensure that staff is trained to use them and do not block passage ways or exits at any time.

If we are adhere to these few reminders we will be on the road to making Barbados a safer place to work, live or visit. We, the members of the Barbados Fire Service, look forward to working with you in the New Year as we move one step further towards our vision. May God bless you and keep you safe during the Christmas Season and into the New Year.

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