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Fire Chief: More fire hydrants needed

Fire Chief: More fire hydrants needed

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Head of the Fire Brigade Station Sergeant Earl James has made a plea for more fire hydrants to be placed across the country.

This appeal comes after fire destroyed the offices of the Magistrate Court, Family Court and the Serious Offences Court at White Chapel Road on Friday, July 21 and another engulfed a dwelling house at Paul’s Avenue on Saturday, July 22.{{more}}

Sergeant James pointed out that his team of firefighters was able to save the court building because there were several hydrants in the vicinity, while there were none in the Paul’s Avenue community.

The Fire Chief noted that while more commercial and residential buildings are being constructed across the state a structural plan to also install more fire hydrants was necessary.

The firefighter pointed out that in Kingstown, they depend on the fire truck that has an aerial ladder to rescue people in high-rise buildings and carries 450 gallons of water, but disperses 350 gallons per minute.

The other truck, he noted, is smaller and attacks the fire with water and foam. It carries 150 gallons and disperses 250 gallons per minute.

Sergeant James explained, “These two trucks are our mobile means of dispersing water. We have a big hose that is two-and-a-half inches in diameter and a smaller hose that is one inch in diameter, so depending on which hose used, we would know how to control the flow of water. Within half-a-minute the trucks could be emptied and this is where people get the mis-conception that the fire trucks come unto the scene empty, but it is not like that.”

The Fire Chief also admitted to the Searchlight that besides hydrants to get a continuous flow of water to fight fires, the Fire Department needed more protective gear.

He noted that besides smoke, there were different chemicals depending on the type of fire, which could choke and even poison firefighters.

He stressed, “We consider the type and strength of the fire that we attack. Factors like wind direction and the type of materials that are burning would impact the magnitude of the fire.”

Sergeant James emphasised that his team was able to save the court building because the offices were positioned in what he described as a “maze”. He explained that this helped to contain the fire, which didn’t spread as quickly. He also noted that because the offices were “boxed in”, oxygen which helps fires burn quickly was limited. He pointed out that if the building was constructed with more flammable materials like wood and was more open, the entire building might have been completely destroyed.

He advised people to purchase fire extinguishers and to educate their families and workers about what to do if a fire breaks out. He noted that besides water, people could use sand or when in the kitchen, throw flour to douse fire in frying pans. Sergeant James also urged adults to keep matches and other flammable agents away from children who might be tempted to play with them.

He stressed that while the Fire Department is comprised of four fire trucks and 54 fighters that are spread throughout the country, if there were several fires simultaneously blazing in the country, every police officer would put their hands on deck to control the situation.

He noted that there are over 700 officers in the force and all have received training to attack fire.

Sergeant James revealed that the Fire Department was making plans to have a fire truck in each district so that the department in each community could tackle the fire and later be backed up by other fire fighters as they arrive on the scene.

The Fire Chief urged persons to call the Central Police Station at the emergency line Tel. No. 999 to report fires.

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