In the wake of the fire in the kitchen of the Pegasus Hotel on Sunday night, the Guyana Fire Service yesterday removed chains and locks that had been used to secure emergency exits, according to Fire Prevention Officer Andrew Holder.
Holder, in a telephone interview yesterday, explained that the Fire Service was also engaged in discussions with the hotel’s management to rectify the breaches of the fire codes that were found.
Asked if the hotel is expected to face any penalties for the breaches, Holder said, “We are working with them to remedy the situation and this course of action would dictate the mode of action that needs to be taken.”
Following the incident, the US State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs yesterday issued an advisory via Twitter informing its citizens that some US government personnel who were staying at the hotel “have decided to move to other locations.”
The advisory noted that some fire alarms did not sound and some fire doors were locked.
Hotel Chief Executive Officer Robert Badal, however, claimed yesterday that an alarm did go off, while Holder said no alarm went off.
In a statement, Badal said a small fire ignited on a fryer in the hotel’s kitchen at approximately 10.30 pm on Sunday. “This resulted in residual smoke entering the lobby area and a few other areas which caused anxieties and an inconvenience to some of our guests,” he further said. “Shortly after the fire ignited, the fire alarm located in the kitchen went off and Emergency Response immediately kicked in,” he added, while noting that the fire was extinguished within 10 minutes by the kitchen staff, with backup from firefighters.
Holder yesterday maintained that no alarm went off during the fire. On Sunday night, he along with guests stated that no alarm was sounded despite the heavy smoke seen in the building.
However, Badal said that his hotel has invested in the latest model of the Honeywell Fire Response System, which is an indication that “the safety and comfort of our guests are of utmost importance to us.”He also said in his statement that guests were allowed to return to “their rooms within a short period of time” and that “there were no injuries or any need for relocation to another property or alternative accommodation.”
On Sunday night, Stabroek News observed several guests of the hotel leaving for the nearby Marriott Hotel for accommodation.
“Pegasus has had a long reputation for a safe and friendly culture and environment and we will strive to continue this tradition by investing in the best available technology, in addition to learning any pertinent lessons from this incident after a complete investigation and analysis are done,” Badal pointed out in his statement before offering apologies to the guests who were inconvenienced. “I was on the second floor when smoke just began filling my room. I said to myself that this was a fire and knowing my kids and my mother-in law were on the 4th floor I rushed up to get them. No alarm went off and when I rushed to the emergency exit a large chain and padlock was on the door,” a pastor based in Queens and Brooklyn, New York related to Stabroek News on Sunday night.
“I brought my family here to have the Guyana experience but this is a disaster. What kind of hotel would have chains on a fire exit? What hotel would not have fire alarms or smoke detectors in the rooms? The authorities need to investigate and see what building codes are in effect. They need to do something,” he added.