Firebugs have been keeping the members of the Barbados Fire Service (BFS) busy for the first 25 days of the year.
The BFS has responded to a total of 173 incidents for the first 25 days of 2019 compared to 88 for the same period in 2018, which translates to a 96 per cent increase in total incidents.
The 173 incidents included 134 fires, compared to 70 fires for the same period last year. Fires have increased by 91 percent.
Fire Officer Andre Taylor, who works in the BFS’ Research and Planning Unit, told members of the media that it should be noted that grass and rubbish fires account for 105 of the 134 fires recorded during this period.
In 2018, grass and rubbish fires totalled 1, 492 of the 2 223 fires recorded that year.
There have been increases in grass fires in 2019 with all eleven parishes recording this type of fire. St John leads with 15, followed by Christ Church with 12, St Lucy 11, St Philip eight and the other parishes have recorded six or fewer grass fires.
“The rise in these incidents is an indication that we need to remind Barbadians of the far-reaching effects of these fires on our environment, on a person’s health as people often burn plastics, sponge and rubber which give off noxious fumes, and of course the ever-present danger of these types of fires burning out of control and destroying someone’s home,” Taylor said.
The Fire Officer also indicated that residential fires are slightly above with six house fires being recorded compared to five in 2018. There was a reduction in residential fires in 2018 with the department responding to 72 of these fires as compared to 78 in 2017 and 80 in 2016.
“Seventy-two homes lost to fire is still 72 too many, so even though we are encouraged by the decrease we are seeing, we are by no means resting on our laurels or patting ourselves on the back as there is still much work to do,” he said.
“It is always a concern to us at the Barbados Fire Service when our year begins with such an increase in fire activity. It is with this in mind that I remind the people of Barbados that they need to be more vigilant, responsible and careful.
“Firstly your vigilance is needed in the respect of reporting fires in a timely manner so that we can respond in the quickest and safest time possible.
“Secondly, we need you to be responsible with respect to keeping your surroundings free of debris and grass, that if ignited, can quickly spread to your home and cause you to experience losses in terms of your physical home, its contents and most painfully, your memories.
“Thirdly, we implore you to be careful as you go about your daily routines, always unplug appliances upon leaving home and never start to cook when feeling fatigued,” Fire Officer Taylor urged.
The Fire Officer assured that the members of the BFS would continue to educate the public through safety programmes, and to push the message of fire safety relentlessly as they seek to reduce the number of fires, especially grass, rubbish and residential fires that occur annually.