The Fire Advisory Board is alarmed at the upsurge in fires and has noted that the National Assembly recently approved an increase in the fines to be imposed on persons found to have hazardous conditions or operations on their premises.
The Board is tasked with providing recommendations to the home affairs minister regarding fire safety/fire prevention issues, it said in a press release yesterday. It also endorses training, prevention and public education activities on fire safety; coordinates the exchange of information among individuals and organisations interested in fire safety; considers and pronounces on appeals made by property owners/occupiers regarding fire prevention and facilitates the participation and support of the private sector and other interested groups in fire prevention and safety.
Additionally, the Guyana Fire Service inspects buildings to determine the presence of hazardous conditions and makes recommendations regarding fire prevention in a written report which it is expected to submit, within a reasonable timeframe to property owner/occupier. The Chief Fire Officer is empowered under the Fire Prevention Act to issue a written notice to the occupier of such a premises requiring him/her to comply with the stipulated measures within a specified period. Failure to comply with the stipulations could result in the owner/occupier being liable on summary conviction to a fine of $15,000 for every day of default.
In addition to the monetary penalty imposed by the GFS the court may order that such premises be closed until the owner/occupier complies with the requirements of the notice. There are further monetary penalties of a minimum of $18,000 and a maximum of $300,000 per day to be imposed should the owner/occupier continue to use the premises after a closing order has been made by the court. The Board said too appeals can be made, formally, to the secretary of the Board and persons can seek further recourse with the minister if they disagree with the Board’s pronouncements. The Board has already met four times this year.
The Board was established in 2006 by Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee in accordance with the Fire Prevention Act, Chapter 22:01 of the Laws of Guyana. Its members comprise Chairman Raj Singh, from the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Howard Cox, representative of the Insurance Association of Guyana; Shailendra Rai, from the Guyana National Bureau of Standards; Colis Primo from the Environmental Protection Agency, David Bhola from the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association; Chief Fire Officer Marlon Gentle and alternate officer Winston McGregor; Ronald Layne of the Ex-Firemen’s Association; Deborah Edwards from the Central Housing and Planning Authority; Hector Stoute from the Mayor and City Council, Dr Shyam Doodnauth from the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Joseph Codette and alternate Curtis Niles from the Guyana Water Inc, Bharat Persaud of the Ministry of Local Government and Secretary Gordon D Smith from the Ministry of Home Affairs.