“Safety first for Barbados Fire Service”

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The Barbados Fire Service (BFS) has changed the way it operates, including new protocols for inspections, as a response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Henderson Patrick, explained that this was important as the agency still had to maintain its legal requirements in areas such as inspections and rescue operations.

“It is expected that the Barbados Fire Service maintains code compliance and ensures that there is a level of life safety in environments. You cannot put that on the backburner because of the pandemic, or because of anything else,” he said during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service.

Patrick said the BFS had established additional protocols designed to protect its personnel during inspections and rescue operations. While Fire Service officials had the option of conducting inspections unannounced, under the new COVID-19 protocols, they now scheduled appointments with businesses before going to carry out inspections.

“We prefer in these times that persons have the heads up, and that when we are there, whatever protocols persons need to put in place to accommodate us, that those protocols are in place,” he said.

He added that under the new protocols, firemen also require one dedicated person from a business to conduct the walkthrough with fire officers, while wearing a mask and sanitising hands.

Mechanisms have also been put in place to visit businesses early in the morning or after closing hours to reduce the level of interaction of its officers with customers, or clients using the facility.

Inspections were also being conducted at establishments such as hotels, which were not populated at this time.

“It is about reducing the level of risk to our officers and to those persons who we would interact with,” he said.

Protocols to protect fire officers and the public when responding to incidents include the wearing of masks and personal protective equipment by fire officers to ensure that there was no transmission of bodily substances.

Fire officers could also provide masks to victims.

“The safety of the personnel is the key thing, and we addressed those matters from the inception of COVID-19. From the time the pandemic had its impact on Barbados, there were certain protocols that we put in place to ensure the safety of individuals, and also to ensure that the capacity is there to respond and provide assistance to individuals when required,” Patrick said. (BGIS)