Small generator fire scorches Buddy’s Sheriff St building

– concerns raised over undisclosed changes in operation

The Guyana Fire Service (GFS) was yesterday morning able to contain a potentially disastrous fire at the Buddy’s building, Sheriff Street caused by the electrical malfunction of a generator.

According to reports, the fire occurred just after 10.30 am yesterday, at the southern end of the building where several generators are located.

Ryan Shivraj, Managing Director of Buddy’s, was reportedly in his office when he was alerted of the fire and efforts were made to evacuate everyone in the building, all of whom made it out unharmed.

The scene outside the building yesterday morning after the fire.

When Stabroek News visited the scene, members of the GFS were seen hosing down the area where the fire had erupted, while a small crowd of persons looked on.

Apart from minor scorching on the southern side of the building and damage to the generator the building suffered no major damage.

Fire Chief Marlon Gentle, in an invited comment, told members of the media that the GFS was alerted of the fire just around 10.35 am yesterday.

“We received three calls through our 912 lines reporting smoke coming from the bottom flat of this building. Our alarms went out and our units were dispatched from the Camp-bellville, Alberttown and Central fire stations. Campbellville was the first unit arriving on the scene and reported heavy smoke conditions on the southern side of the building which houses the generators,” Gentle explained.

“Fires were somewhere between the generators and the building of itself. The other units when they arrived were able to surround the fire and were able to put it out,” he added.

Regarding the cause of the fire, the Fire Chief said preliminary findings indicate that it might have been the result of an electrical malfunction during the operation of the generator.

The southern side of the building suffered minor scorching as a result of yesterday’s fire.

He expressed concern that the occupancy and operation details of the building had changed but no consultation was done with the GFS to ensure that the necessary fire safety measures were in place to suit the change.

“Clearly the fire safety measures that were previously in place were not adequate to first detect this problem… The amount of generators that we saw there… (We knew that only two generators were there, one large and one small.) However, we are now seeing another bank of generators which of course we believe led to the electrical failure,” Gentle said

“Based on our observations and our last review of this building last year there have been some significant changes made to the operations. A floor, which we once knew as a pool hall, has since been converted to a school. And on the bottom floor, there are some ongoing renovation works that seem to suggest some type of fast food operation will be coming there,” he added.

The Fire Chief, after speaking with the proprietor of the building, told the media that plans are underway for an engagement on the change of occupancy and operations of the building as different fire safety measures would have to be put in place.

Additionally, the GFS will be engaging technical partners at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, the Government Public Inspectors Department and the City Council Engineers Department to ascertain what plans, if any, were submitted for the changes to the building.

“We have to find out what plans would have been submitted for the changes of the building and from there we will take it because clearly there are some changes that we do not know about,” the Fire Chief added.

Two parts of the building, Buddy’s Pool Hall and Night Club were closed last September due to a drop in business. However, Buddy’s Mei Tung Restau-rant and Buddy’s Gym remained open.

The pool hall has since been taken over by a medical school, the Alexander American University School of Medicine, operated by Indian nationals.

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