BLAME WAS NOT in short supply yesterday as a DAILY NATION team visited City stores following the Campus Trendz tragedy.
From architects to Government, the fire service, police force and store owners, almost everyone pointed their fingers at who they thought were to blame for so many stores in The City lacking proper measures to deal with a fire.
Co-owner of Wild Pair, Samuel Neblett, said some stores were like human ovens.
“This is something landlords and architects needed to get together with Government to work out. It may take a long time but it has to be done.
“Many stores in town have no fire measures at all; no fire extinguishers or back doors. It’s basically working in a human oven; you must feel uncomfortable,” he said.
A supervisor in $50 and Less on Tudor Street, who requested anonymity, said it was time for building owners to come together.
“They need to come together and make sure they follow safety codes as well as provide exits to buildings. Also, they should work with police in setting up surveillance cameras outside the stores in order to see what is happening on these streets. This would be a big help,” he said.
A manager at D&S Boutique, who also declined to reveal his identity, said it was less about doors and more about the criminal element, adding the Civil Service was also at fault.
“Most stores in town cannot put in a back door. The real question is, how can so many buildings be going up without such doors with the approval of Town and Country Planning and the fire chief?
“How much doors in the stores is not the real problem. Criminals are the problem. That store [Campus Trendz] had two doors [in the front] but the thieves were well organised and waited for one of them to be shut before attacking,” he said.
Even though reggae artiste Mark Twin Man Rollins does not own a store, he has observed changes in the buildings along Tudor Street.
“Around 1989-1990 these stores had problems with thieves coming in through the back and stealing their merchandise so they sealed off the back doors. They care more about clothes than life,” he said.
Rollins said while he understood businesses needed to protect their stock, a door and extra security was a small price to pay.
“These stores are making money, nothing sells like fashion. They can afford to build a back door and hire a guard,” he said.
Conversely, Edward “Eddy” Abed blamed no one. He instead appealed that a negative light was not placed on Bridgetown.
“Bridgetown is safe. What happened was a freak occurrence. We have the technology to combat fire in Barbados. Yes, we can improve but let us not assume town is unsafe, especially as we are a huge tourism destination,” he said.
The managing director of Abed’s said they had fire extinguishers and fire blankets “strategically located” in the store as well as an exit which led to the roof of the building, adding they were considering fire detectors.
“We were a part of Sheraton when they had the fire there, so fortunately we benefited from an intensive training programme and have implemented it in all our stores,” he said.
At Woolworth, managing director Martin Bryan said they had an emergency exit plan as well as numerous exits and fire extinguishers.
“We also have a fire hose on the top floor and a metal fire escape from the roof to the sidewalk,” he said.
Hugh Durant, manager of corporate communications at Cave Shepherd, said they had three main entrance/exit doors; fire extinguishers and hoses; smoke detectors and fire escapes.