The death of three children in a house in Rookery Nook, Maraval, last week has raised the issue about safety measures that should be taken to protect people’s lives in the event of a fire.
Assistant chief fire officer of the T&T Fire Service Marlon Smith told the Sunday Guardian that although there are general guidelines on how citizens should protect themselves, unfortunately, these are ignored by many.
Smith said the time may soon come when legislation is needed to mandate people to adhere to certain measures when building new homes to protect themselves in the case of a fire.
He also said that the T&T Fire Service offers training on how to use equipment, evacuation drills and how people can safeguard themselves and called upon citizens to contact the T&T Fire Service if they need this type of guidance.
“Unfortunately, the T&T Fire service gives all this advice and people don’t listen. People feel as if it would not happen to them and a fire would not happen. They have the information and they refuse to act on it. That incident in Maraval, it is not the first time that something like that has happened,” he said.
He provided statistics on fires in 2020 and 2021. In 2020 there were 692 fires in residential properties in T&T, while there were 52 fires in business places.
For 2021 so far, there have been 304 fires in residential properties, while there have been 15 fires in business places so far for this year.
Smith offered some safety guidelines:
*Install Smoke detectors/heat detectors
*Purchase Fire extinguishers
*Install burglar proofs on windows that can be adjusted and opened with a key in the case of a fire and other emergencies
*Ensure that there is a key in a safe place nearby to open the burglar proofs in the case of an emergency
*Remove all combustibles from the home that can cause a fire (such as paint)
*Have a plan to leave the house in case of a fire. Establish exit points
*Ensure you have the phone number for the closest fire station at hand
*All T&T’s fire stations provide training to members of the public on how to use fire extinguishers, contact them for guidance
For people who want to build a new house, he advised:
*Ensure that when installing burglar proofs, they are adjustable and can be opened with a key in case of emergency
*Make sure that every room is built in a certain way where there is an escape point
*If a two-storey house is being built, make sure it is designed in a way that allows family members to escape without hurting themselves. For example, a family member can get out of window on the top floor and get onto a ledge, then jump to the ground