Fire prevention measures in Swan Street stores – introduced following the September 2010 Campus Trendz fire – prevented Monday night’s blaze from engulfing more stores, Deputy Chief Fire Officer Henderson Patrick has revealed.
Firewalls recently installed at Dallas Discount and Kazi’s, were responsible for containing the blaze, which gutted only two stores, B Sharp textile store and AJ’s Deli, the senior fire officer told Barbados TODAY.
“Both of those adjacent buildings had firewalls on both sides of the blaze and it really assisted them in the reduction of fire spread. This is something that we ask businesses to do when they are setting up in The City because when you have walls that can withstand fire for two to three hours, it gives the firemen the opportunity to put out the flame before it actually spreads,” said Patrick.
Initial inspections have indicated that the structural integrity of the adjoining buildings was not compromised, he said. When Barbados TODAY visited the scene this morning, Dallas Discount was open for business while the workers at Kazi’s were busy trying to get the smoky smell out of their store so that operations could begin later in the day.
The fire broke out just a week after the eighth anniversary of the nearby Campus Trendz store fire, which claimed the lives of six young women. Jamar Bynoe and Renaldo Alleyne were convicted and jailed for firebombing the clothing store with Molotov cocktails after a robbery on September 3, 2010.
In the days following the tragedy, the issue of fire safety in Bridgetown stores dominated the national conversation. Lawyer and social activist David Comissiong filed a civil suit against the Ministry of Labour, the Chief Labour Officer, the Fire Department, the owners of the building and the operator of the business, contending that they were all guilty of negligence, as the building, located on Tudor Street did not have a fire escape.
Since then, each anniversary of the fire has become a referendum on the fire service’s progress in getting more businesses in The City compliant with the fire codes.
But Patrick contended that yesterday’s development was evidence that businesses are taking fire safety seriously. He told Barbados TODAY that where it was not possible for stores to install a fire escape, they were investing in additional fire extinguishers and smoke alarms.
“Proprietors are definitely paying more attention to fire safety. In every jurisdiction you would find what is referred to as one-door stores and in the Bridgetown context it is going to be very difficult to get rid of that particular model.
“However the owners have been responding positively to the safety requirements and the advice that is being given by the fire department.
“Many have increased their level of protection by putting in more extinguishers. Many also have put in alarms, some which were activated last night as a result of the fire. So persons are definitely learning from the Campus Trendz tragedy,” Patrick further contended.
Manager of Kazi’s, Yaeesh Pandor, told Barbados TODAY that he was grateful that the store was unharmed as its doors had only swung open for the first time the day before.
“It is a rough start to the start of our business but I am happy that nothing was damaged. At first when I heard the news we thought it was our store but we checked our cameras and saw that we were okay. We just need to let the store air out from the smoke and we are hoping that ash does not pose any problems for us later,” Pandor said.