Barbadians transacting business in the busy Swan Street shopping area no longer have to fear being trapped in a raging inferno in virtually any of the stores located there.
A majority of storeowners have sought to comply with the fire prevention code outlined by officers of Fire Prevention Unit of the Barbados Fire Service, Acting Chief Fire Officer Errol Maynard disclosed to reporters today shortly after taking a fact-finding tour of the Swan Street shopping area.
Maynard, who was accompanied by Deputy Chief Fire Officer Lloydson Phillips; the officer in charge of the Fire Prevention Unit, Henderson Patrick and five fire prevention officers said many of the business owners in Swan Street are taking the necessary preventive measures to make their premises safe for workers and customers.
“We still have a few owners that we have to work with. We recognize that in some cases it is an expensive exercise to retrofit some properties. Some of the businesses do not have the capacity to create an alternative exit so we are working with them to ensure that the safety of the workers and customers is not compromised. However, I would say that many businesses in Swan Street are compliant,” he said.
Pointing out that the presence of fire prevention officers in Swan Street was not a reaction to the Campus Trendz tragedy in September 2012, Maynard said his officers were carrying out inspections long before that tragic incident.
“The Campus Trendz issue might have brought a lot of deficiencies to light that would have existed. People obviously were outraged by the incident, but our officers were there long before the Campus Trendz issue. It is not a reactive exercise, we would have had this programme in place already,” Maynard said.
Responding to a query on the location of fire hydrants on Swan Street, the fire chief said there are there, but they are underground.
He said that going forward he would recommend to Government officials that a few pillar hydrants are installed so that they can be easily seen easily.
During a ceremony to observe the fifth anniversary of the Campus Trendz tragedy on September 3, leading crusader against domestic violence Leisel Daisley complained that there were still young women working in unsafe “one-door” stores. She also suggested that there had been little to no progress in terms of safety in the five years since the fire that took the lives of six young women.
Daisley said she was “sick and tired” of empty and broken promises made by the authorities with regard to passing legislation for an enforceable building code. “It is time for action,” she said at the time.
“Imagine the four young ladies who have to work in that store every day, all day. Imagine how they feel with no windows, no extra door in case there is an emergency, one way in and one way out,” said Daisley at the time.
Campus Trendz victims Pearl Amanda Cornelius, 18, Kelly Ann Welch, 24, Shanna Griffith, 18, Nikita Belgrave, 23, Tiffany Harding, 23 and Kellisha Ovivierre, 24, perished inside the one door Tudor Street boutique after it was firebombed during a robbery. A young man is serving six life sentences for the crime.