Thu | Apr 2, 2020

Jamaicans ignorant to proper fire-safety methods, says expert

Published:Tuesday | October 23, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis/Gleaner Writer
Vitanya Allen (left) and Jazmyne Treasure, both of the Ensom Primary School, look at fire safety brochures that were on display during the launch of Fire Safety Awareness Week held at the Spanish Court Hotel, St Andrew, recently.

Jamaicans need to make a concerted effort to be educated on fire-prevention methods, noted fire and material science lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Dr Tanya Innis-Kerr.

"While I was doing fire investigations, one of the most painful things to me was when I had to investigate a fatal fire, and when I asked about the victims, I would hear that the body was found in the doorway. So persons were trying to make their way out and could not get out. Persons were found in shower stalls, and children would hide in closets or under the bed. It is heartbreaking, because people die because they don't know what to do," said Innis-Kerr at the recent launch of the 2018 Jamaica Fire Brigade Fire Safety Awareness Week at Spanish Court Hotel in St Andrew.

She said people need to understand fire protection at home and at work, such as the significance of fire alarms, how to use a fire extinguisher, how to put out certain types of fire, knowing when to fight and when to leave, how to create an escape plan and, importantly, how you actually escape.

"During this week, I implore Jamaicans to participate so that they can learn what they have to, because it is important to understand our risks. In Jamaica, all our windows are grilled. What does that mean for you? It is a major, major problem if you cannot escape through a window, so you must have a plan," said Innis-Kerr.

Since 2009, eighty-eight children have lost their lives to fires, which propels this year's theme of Fire Safety Awareness Week: 'Mek Wi Fix It ... Make Fire Safety and our Children Our Priority'.

Being commemorated this week, the Jamaica Fire Brigade will focus activities: on fire and life safety in and around the home; community and fire-safety tours; inspecting homes and educating citizens; and a child fire-safety initiative, conducting talks at schools and at children's homes.