Bushlot fire: GFS accepts criticisms; fireman taken to hospital for back pain

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

See full statement from Guyana Fire Service:

The Guyana Fire Service notes the concerns and frustrations expressed by the business owners and residents of Bush Lot following the devastating fire on Monday, which tragically resulted in the loss of one life and significant property destruction. We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Carl Rajendra Persaud and our sympathies to all those affected by this tragic event.

We are aware of the criticisms regarding the equipment and response time during the incident. The complaints about hoses with perforations and delays in accessing an open water source are taken seriously. These issues somewhat hindered our ability to effectively contain the blaze and protect the businesses and properties impacted.

While there are two fire hydrants in the area, only one was accessible due to earth blockage of the underground valves. It is the duty of the Guyana Fire Service to inspect and ensure the operability of fire hydrants, and we accept full responsibility for the inaccessible hydrant. However, it is important to note that there was a power outage in the area at the time of the fire, which resulted in insufficient water pressure, further affecting the water supply and overall operation.

We refute the claims that fire tenders arrived late at the scene. The report was received at 18:03 hrs, and the first tender (WT#90 from Onverwagt) arrived at 18:10 hrs. The second tender (WT#74 from New Amsterdam) arrived at 19:01 hrs, and the third tender (WT#106 from Mahaica) arrived at 19:21 hrs. Additionally, we affirm that all three responding tenders had water in their tanks.

Due to the magnitude of the fire, upon arrival, firefighters opted to access a nearby open water source to facilitate continuous firefighting. A relay system was set up between the tenders using light pumps, which accessed water from a nearby trench. Three water tenders and an ambulance, along with sixteen firefighters and three Emergency Medical Technicians, were engaged in the firefighting operation and response. Despite the arduous nature of the task, our team successfully managed to contain and extinguish the blaze, limiting the destruction to three buildings and preventing a potentially catastrophic spread.

One civilian and one fire personnel were transported to the Fort Wellington Regional Hospital by our Emergency Medical Technicians for treatment of fainting and lower back pain, respectively.

The GFS reviews each incident by way of an After-Action Reports so as to continuously improve our service. We are currently conducting a thorough review of our engagement, equipment, and operational protocols to ensure such issues do not reoccur. This includes continuous repair of damaged hoses, procurement of new hoses and other critical firefighting equipment, as well as enhanced training for our personnel.

We understand and regret the significant impact this fire has had on the Bush Lot community. We renew our call for citizens to equip their homes and businesses with smoke detectors, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, fire balls and to consider fire insurance.The Guyana Fire Service is dedicated to safeguarding lives and property, and we are embracing these lessons to enhance our service in the future.