Stealing of electricity has been a significant cause of fires this year while 16 percent of fires in the country resulted from children playing with matches after being left unattended at home by their parents, according to Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee.
In a message to mark National Fire Prevention Week, the home affairs minister also noted that approximately 12 percentof the actual fires to which the Guyana Fire Service responded were suspected to have been set by arsonists.
He also disclosed that eight lives were lost in fires this year and 681 persons were left homeless while ninety buildings were destroyed and twenty-nine others were severely damaged.
Rohee pointed out also that the Fire Service is greatly concerned over the number of fires that are electrical in origin.
“Investigations revealed that a large percentage of electrical fires are as a result of persons using illegal connections to the electrical distribution system. I would like to issue a call to all those who pursue this dangerous practice to desist from doing so.”
He also urged “all right thinking persons” to report all incidents of attempted arson within their communities.
Meanwhile, during this fire prevention week the Guyana Fire Service will be intensifying its efforts in promoting fire safety with a number of public awareness programmes and activities.
These activities will include radio and television programmes and outreach fire safety fairs, targeting school children and youths along with residents around the country.
Rohee observed also that the countrywide expansion programme by the Guyana Fire Service is aimed at providing reliable and efficient services to newly-established communities.
This expansion, he said, includes the recently established fire stations at Rose Hall, Central Corentyne, Berbice, Bartica, Essequibo and Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice.
A fire station at Mahaica, East Coast Demerara, is in its final phase of construction and soon a new fire station will be established at Diamond, East Bank Demerara, Rohee disclosed.
Moreover, the construction of a Training Complex at Leonora, West Coast Demerara, has commenced and this facility will enhance the firefighting skills and professionalism of members of the service, Rohee said.
In the meantime, the service has been vigorously pursuing its Hinterland Fire Protection programme and the areas that will benefit from this programme are Lethem in Region 9, Mahdia in Region 8, Kwakwani in Region 10, and Mabaruma/Kumaka and Port Kaituma in Region 1.
The theme for this year’s observance is “Practice Fire Safety for Better and Safer Communities”.
Rohee also commended the officers and ranks of the Timehri Fire Station for their “professionalism in the way they responded to the recent aircraft crash at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.
“The timely response by this branch of the Guyana Fire Service certainly displayed the high level of commitment and dedication of these ranks…”
He also mentioned the response by the Linden Fire Unit to a recent fire at Linden Multilateral School. “This fire could have caused severe damage to the education system in Linden, which could have resulted in the displacement of students and teachers.
The recent fire at Hadfield and D’Urban streets and Transport and Harbours Storage Bond at Water Street are indications of the high level of firefighting skills possessed by members of the Guyana Fire Service,” Rohee said.
He pointed out also that if these recent fires had not been brought under control in a timely and effective manner they would have had a negative impact on the country’s economy.
Rohee called on all citizens to adhere to good and proper fire safety measures so as to assist in the reduction of fires in their communities.
“Community involvement is the first step towards preventing fires and must be encouraged. It is our duty to practice fire safety, eliminating or reducing the threat of fire from our homes and business,” the home affairs minister added.