With more high-rise buildings being constructed across the island, the Barbados Fire Service (BFS) has been improving the skills of its officers through training to ensure they can adequately respond to an emergency situation in these structures.
Yesterday as the BFS held Fire Service Week Open Day at the Arch Hall Fire Station, officers from the Northern Division showcased some of the actions fire officers have to take when conditions are not favourable in high-rise buildings.
Coordinator of the open day drills, Fire Officer Marlon Small, who is based at the Arch Hall Fire Station, said the display was to show that the BFS has been able to keep abreast of the changes in the country and that the officers have the capacity and skills to deal with the various emergencies.
Small said that with Barbados slowly going in for the high-rise type of building new techniques had to be employed since the BFS normally responded to developments at ground level.
“With a high-rise situation we need to take all the equipment up to the floors so it means we will be trekking several flights of floors above with 70 to 80 pounds of equipment in order to be effective,” he reported.
He said that it was not only important to have skills but that fire-fighters be in good physical condition.
Small said that Barbados was seen as a trend-setter in dealing with fire and emergency situations in the Caribbean since the 20th century and had initiated different types of emergency response units such as hazardous material and high angle response units. In addition, there is a training unit where the BFS does day to day training at the station. It also provides training to the public on fire safety.
At yesterday’s Open Day the skills demonstrated to the public by fire officers from the northern division and the St John, St James and Arch Hall Fire Stations included fire suppression, survival, and rescue techniques.
The skills demonstrations included evacuating the building using the hose and the ladder.
In recognizing that the fire officers wear the big heavy suits in heated conditions and can become exhausted or entangled and run out of air, there is a Rapid Intervention Team on the ground waiting to go in and offer assistance and perform rescues.
The fire officers also did rope rappelling and the vertical ladder climb. (LK)