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School gutted by huge blaze

KINGSTOWN – Some parents and other onlookers said yesterday afternoon that they were displeased with how the Fire Department – a unit of the Police Force – handled a blaze at the Kingstown Government School.

The fire at the elementary school, also known as the Stoney Ground Government School, destroyed the upper floor of a two-storey section, leaving only the concrete walls and a part of the roof standing.

“They [didn’t] respond good enough,” Heather Robinson, whose daughter is a Grade 5 student at the school, told SEARCHLIGHT from behind the police line.

“They are too slow in everything,” the Largo Height resident further said, as she complained about the fire trucks having to return downtown Kingstown to refill with water.

“It ain’t have anything to do with Labour or NDP,” another woman said, referring to the nation’s two main political parties.

“Me ah Labour but this is my pickney (children) them school,” the woman further said as other onlookers complained about the fire fighters’ response.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Reynold Hadaway told reporters that fire tenders had to return downtown to source water because the pressure at the nearby hydrant was too low.

“And that gave us some difficulties in terms of having the tenders on site to deal with the situation throughout.”

The Central Water and Sewerage Authority later installed a temporary hydrant outside the school that was used to source water to douse the blaze.

Asked if the fire tenders having to return downtown Kingstown to refill might have contributed to the extent of the damage to the structure, Hadaway said:

“There would certainly be some justification in that argument …”

Only one person was seen wearing fire-fighting gear as cops from the Special Service Unit, wearing their camouflage uniform, helped to put out the blaze.

Acting Prime Minister Girlyn Miguel – who is also Minister of Education – and other education and government officials, who arrived later, watched as the cops doused the last smoking segments of the building.

“Whenever there is a fire, we source all our resources together: SSU, RRU (Rapid Response Unit), fire, everyone is mandated to attend to a fire. We all are fire officers,” Hadaway said, when asked about the cops without protective clothing.

“We have sourced some protective gear in recent times and that is what you are seeing the men are using as we speak now…,” he said.

“Usually, the SSU and other officers on location will not be given that type of protective gear,” he further stated.

Thursday’s blaze was the second to affect a school in the nation’s capital.

A fire at a nearby business place damaged the Anglican School in downtown Kingstown earlier this year. (Searchlight)

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