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Be cheerful and careful

Wilfred Marshall, Chief Fire Officer

Be cheerful and careful

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The following is a Christmas message from Fire Chief Wilfred Marshall
The Barbados Fire Service is cognisant of the energy, the excitement and the emphasis which is associated with the traditions of this Yuletide season.
It is a time when no effort is spared to convey to all relatives, neighbours and friends the spirit of love, gratitude and goodwill. The exercise of these attributes is best received when your manner is cheerful but in the delivery you must be careful.
When every scenario you imagine seems to be going according to plan, there is the tendency to become complacent and to lose focus of the basic but essential principles of safety and due care. The consequences of an error in judgment because you have pushed yourself to the limit to accomplish last-minute preparations can incur significant loss of property and sometimes life.
The Barbados Fire Service is committed to the reduction of property damage and loss. Our commitment is no less fervent when it comes to the preservation of life.
We as a society endured the horror of fatalities by fire earlier this year and more recently the fire service has been faced with the first line-of-duty death since it was established in Barbados. These circumstances are never easy but we have a duty to put the requisite systems in place to mitigate against these types of events.
As great and noble as our efforts may be, we cannot achieve this feat alone. This is why the strongest appeal is being made for all citizens to exercise vigilance, care and caution during this festive season.
String your lights but ensure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. If there is any uncertainty or reservations, consult a qualified electrician. Light your candles but keep them away from flammable and combustible materials, away from curtains and away from wooden surfaces. Cook whatever meals you intend to but do not leave the open flames unattended for long periods.
Keep small children away from the kitchen and away from lighted Christmas trees. Do not overload electrical circuits and do not carry out any critical function in the kitchen or otherwise if you have been consuming alcohol excessively or have been taking medication, especially those that cause drowsiness.So far for this month fire calls are down significantly, registering 74 calls for all categories as compared to 215 for December 2009. For the month so far private dwelling house fires stand at four as compared to seven in December 2009. For the same period, there were no commercial building fires. Grass fires, which reached 108 last December, now stand at 20.
The annual statistics however paint a slightly different picture. Fires overall in 2009 were 1 990 but to date there are 2 585. Private dwelling house fire calls increased from 86 in 2009 to 133 for the year so far. Commercial buildings increased from 19 to 28, grass fires went up from 909 to 1 329, and sugar canes from 107 to 154. These figures represent the major categories of fire but most other categories also showed increases.Our major concern at this time is with the private dwelling house fires. There are already too many and we are asking everyone to make a very special effort to pay attention to safety in the home. Check and recheck before you leave home. Only leave required items plugged in. Check the gas bottle. Ensure that you put out all open flames which you may have lit.
Let us make this Christmas season one to be remembered not because something went wrong through carelessness, but because everything went right through carefulness.