Fire Service issues Christmas warning

Concerned about the number of house fires which have occurred so far this year, the Barbados Fire Service is urging home owners to take extra care this Christmas season.

Acting Chief Fire Officer Errol Maynard, in a message on Christmas safety, said this year, regrettably, the Fire Service had been summoned to numerous fires, especially at private dwellings.

He reported that in 2013, there were 80 recorded house fires, compared to 93 so far this year –– an increase of 16.25 per cent.

This has sparked renewed concern that Barbadians are not heeding the message of fire safety.

The Fire Service is therefore urging persons who plan to cook to ensure that they are not fatigued or under the influence of any medication or any other legal or illegal substances that would impair their ability to carry out and complete their tasks safely.

“Persons who smoke are also asked not to carry out this practice in bed and to dispose of their cigarette butts in the appropriate containers, soaking them in water if necessary.

“On the matter of good housekeeping practices, you are encouraged to keep in and around your properties clean and tidy by not allowing materials such as old wood, log, grass piles, sponge or plastics to accumulate. Also, try not to let your vacant lots become overrun by grass as this practice is unsightly, unhealthy and gives fire a direct path to your home,” the release said.

Those who live near the ocean have been reminded to carry out frequent checks on the condition of their electrical fittings and fixtures as the salt sprays could easily corrode the protective casings, leaving wires exposed and sometimes allowing electrical elements to touch, which could lead to a fire occurring.

Also, at this time of year when Bridgetown is normally filled with shoppers, store owners and managers are encouraged not to overcrowd their stores with merchandise or block exits or firefighting equipment.

These actions are dangerous and are not in accordance with Part III Sections 38 and 39 of the Safety and Health at Work Act 2005, the Fire Service warned.

“I am further reminding persons that all smoke alarms should be in proper working order and that exits are clearly marked to ensure a safe evacuation of customers in case of an emergency,” Maynard said.

He also warned that provisions must be made for periodic announcements on what to do if an alarm goes off, particularly in one-door establishments.

Amid the festive season, he cautioned drivers not to drink and go behind the steering wheel.’

“If you must drink, have a designated driver, as the impact of a motor vehicle accident has far-reaching economic, physical and emotional consequences,” he said.

The Barbados Fire Service has responded to 49 motor vehicle accidents for the year to date, with a number of these being fatal.

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