With five months still left in the year, Barbados has already recorded over 1 400 fires. And Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson is urging Barbadians to insure their homes.
Speaking at the launch of the Barbados Fire Service (BFS) Community Risk Reduction Programme in Bush Hall, St Michael this afternoon, Chief Fire Officer Errol Maynard disclosed that from January 1 to July 15, 2019, fire officers responded to 1 778 incidents, including 1 473 fires. In 2018, there were 1 850 incidents, including 1 687 fires.
He said although he was pleased with the overall decrease in incidents, he was worried there were still too many fires in a country so small.
“I will bring the statistics closer to home and inform you that the parish of St Michael continues to be the frontrunner with reference to having the most residential fires. In 2016, out of the 80 residential fires, St Michael accounted for 40; in 2017, [there were] 30 out of 78; and in 2018, 30 out of 72. Thus far for 2019, we have recorded 40 residential fires, out of which 14 were in the parish of St Michael.
“I truly hope that 2019 is a turnaround year, not just for this parish, but Barbados as a whole,” he said.
Maynard noted that, unfortunately, three people lost their lives to fires in Bush Hall in 2019 – one in Kew Road earlier in the year and more recently, a mother and her son in Alleyne’s Land.
He reminded householders that items and practices in the home were responsible for fires, including fans, extension cords, leaving computers charging, cooking when tired, and even having a cigarette in bed.
“There are tragedies such as these that reinforce the importance for us to be here in the community with you today, spreading the message of fire safety and community resilience as we continue to bridge the gap between residents and First Responders,” the Chief Fire Officer said.
“We can no longer have you, the residents, ignore the magnitude of the dangers that are not only within the confines of your homes but also that surround you, such as overgrown grass, old wood, mattresses and other disposable refuse that persons accumulate around the home; many of these things, once ignited, can easily spread to your home and the homes of your neighbours.”
Minister Hinkson, while delivering the featured address at the launch, made the call for householders to ensure their residences have insurance coverage.
He said his investigations revealed that some insurance companies offered coverage for a chattel house, for example, for just over BDS $300 per year.
“As human beings, we do not have the full capacity within ourselves to stop a tragedy from occurring. We can, however, put the necessary measures in place to reduce the likelihood of such tragedies taking place. We can create a level of resilience among our people, a resilience that is needed within our communities as we seek to make ourselves fire-smart and disaster-ready.
“Each individual member of the community is duty-bound to be disaster ready through early preparation and stocking of essential supplies. We cannot and must not await the imminent arrival of a disaster to prepare,” Hinkson said.