The Barbados Fire Service is encouraging homeowners to monitor how and where they charge their devices and avoid overloading power strips and extension cords. (Stock Photo)

Chief Fire Officer (CFO), Errol Maynard, is urging members of the public to practise good fire safety measures during the Christmas season. He issued this plea recently during the Fire Service’s annual yuletide message.

While extending season’s greetings to all Barbadians on behalf of the Barbados Fire Service and its employees, and congratulating the island on being the newest Republic in the region, Mr. Maynard appealed to persons “to keep safe from unwanted fires and avoid behaviours that can lead to incidents of fire”.

He continued: “As we celebrate the Christmas Season, let us remember that it only takes a spark to get the fire going; it only takes one careless action for you to lose your home; it only takes one unguarded moment for you to lose your life. That spark, that careless action or that unguarded moment can result in the loss of life, limb and/or property.”

Mr. Maynard shared some tips to help prevent fires during the holiday season. They include: keeping surroundings clean and sanitary; avoiding the illegal dumping and indiscriminate burning of rubbish and domestic waste; installing early warning devices (alarms and smoke detectors); and paying attention to what children are doing and monitoring how and where they charge their devices.

Thus far for the year, Barbados has recorded 1,193 fire calls, of which 67 were private dwellings, resulting in five related deaths. This in comparison to 1,600 in 2020, of which 77 were private dwellings.

Persons were also urged to avoid overloading power strips/extension cords; unplug and turn off all lights and electronic devices not in use before going to bed or leaving home; and, most importantly, to insure their homes and properties.

In addition, the CFO advised the business community that as they prepared to serve their customers and maximise on profits this Christmas season, to “think safety first”. 

“Do not overstock and create a hazard for your patrons; keep your stock neat and properly packed and develop a restock plan to avoid overstocking and the blocking of corridors and pathways; do not allow too many occupants in your stores at any given time, in addition to being a Fire and Life Safety hazard, it is a ripe and fertile ground for the transmission of the coronavirus; and make sure that your Fire and Life Safety Certificate is valid,” he recommended.

The Chief Fire Officer reported that thus far for the year, Barbados has recorded 1,193 fire calls, of which 67 were private dwellings, resulting in five related deaths. This in comparison to 1,600 in 2020, of which 77 were private dwellings.  “The loss of one home or one life is too many, we ought to, and can do much better,” he maintained.

The Chief Fire Officer is also urging homeowners to install early warning devices such as alarms and smoke detectors. (Stock Photo)

Reminding the public that Barbados is a water scarce country and that the Fire Service needs water to fight fires, Mr. Maynard also urged Barbadians to avoid wasting water.

He also appealed to those businesses and homes who store water in tanks to give the Service access in case of emergencies. “In doing so the property or life saved may be your own,” he noted.

The CFO also took the opportunity to commend all members of the Barbados Fire Service for “their tremendous work, their commitment and maturity” during “these very difficult and challenging times”. 

He concluded his message by encouraging members of the public to keep safe and stay away from situations that can contribute to the spread of the coronavirus, and to wear a mask, wash and sanitise their hands, and social distance.

“I therefore encourage you that as you celebrate, be vigilant, do not take chances with the virus nor with fire, neither one is a respecter of persons …. The last two years have been difficult for all of us, let us end on a positive note,” Chief Fire Officer Maynard stated.

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