Tue | Jun 6, 2023

Lack of awareness, non-compliance flagged during Fire Safety Week

Published:Tuesday | November 1, 2022 | 12:06 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer
 Firefighters using the chair lift to move patients during a drill at the infirmary.
Firefighters using the chair lift to move patients during a drill at the infirmary.

Rayon Davis, district officer in charge of fire prevention in Clarendon, says he has noticed several fire safety deficiencies in the central Jamaica parish.

The team has been visiting various schools and institutions, conducting drills and information sessions in observance of Fire and Life Safety Awareness Week under the theme ‘Preserving the Nation Through Life Safety and Fire Prevention’, between October 23 and October 29.

Of major concern to firefighters was the disregard shown by some persons when they hear the fire alarm during the drills.

“When the alarm sounded, some people were carrying on with their own businesses. So, initiatives like this will help raise the awareness and education to respond correctly to the sound of a fire alarm,” he said.

Other areas of concern were the hindrances found in workplace and home design, as well as those caused by construction acitivites, to the quick evacuation of people. For example, missing ramps for movement of wheelchairs; uneven surfaces affecting people with walking disabilities or other impairments; and the unsuitable location of assembly points.

Commenting on the week’s activities, Davis said fire officials got opportunities to have one-on-one interactions with target groups to effectively promote safety procedures.

Pointing out that one child’s death in a fire is one too many, he said the goal this year is to focus on children and adults in the special-needs community.

“We have been carrying out that mandate by providing education in training, conducting drills to sensitise the need for effective response, inspecting and recommending improvement of fire safety for their environment,” he told The Gleaner.

Referencing some of the major findings, Davis flagged the absence of essential safety infrastructure: alarms, ramps, extinguishers, evacuation plans, among others.

“Many persons are aware, but don’t practise safety. There needs to be a safety culture. Safety needs to be as important as security is,” he said.

On Sunday, September 4, three siblings died in a fire in Westmoreland. And in March, two sisters perished in a blaze at their Clarendon home.