Fire at OPR building: Contingency systems in place – Top Cop

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Following this afternoon’s fire which destroyed a section of the building that housed the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and other divisions of the Guyana Police Force, Top Cop Nigel Hoppie says systems are in place to account for the files and other materials that were destroyed in the blaze so that ongoing investigations are not affected.

The OPR is the Police Force’s internal investigative unit.

Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie

“We always have contingency systems in place but of course any fire initially would affect us in going forward but together as a team, we will put systems in place that it doesn’t hamper our progress… The thing is that most of these cases have connections to several divisions also because, as you are aware, we have a decentralised Office of Professional Responsibility unit that is in every region of our country,” the Top Cop told reporters at the scene.

The building on fire

The fire started just before 14:00h at the western end of the wooden building that is located in the Eve Leary compound at the GPF Headquarters. In addition to the OPR office, the building also housed the Force’s Barracks and Carpentry Division to the western end, while the eastern side has the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

As the fire was raging, efforts were made to clear out all files, law books and other items in the DPP’s section of the building. However, firefighters were able to contain the blaze to mostly the western and mid sections of the building.

Files being removed from DPP Chambers

DPP Shalimar Ali-Hackh was at there overseeing her staffing removing belongings from the building with assistance from police ranks and others.

It was revealed by Communications Officer, Liz Rahaman, that 98 per cent of the DPP Chambers’ legal documents and files along with most of the DPP’s office was saved.

“We have been able to save 98 per cent of our legal documents, our legal files so we are very grateful to all our staff who turn up here today,” she noted.

Meanwhile, speaking with reporters at the scene, Fire Chief Kalamadeen Edoo, disclosed that a total of five tenders from various Fire Stations in Georgetown responded to the report.

Fire Chief Kalamadeen Edoo

“Immediately, we were able to get straight away into a fire fighting [mode] and we were able to get the fire under control at this point in time, preventing it from further damaging the other building,” he related.

Edoo added, “In the initial stage, there was a slow pressure coming from the hydrant, but… we informed GWI (Guyana Water Incorporated) and they were able to boost up the pressure… The Fire Service [did] an excellent job in containing the fire at this point in time.”

The Fire Chief went on to note that investigations are ongoing to ascertain the cause of this afternoon’s inferno.

Edoo said the Fire Service is on high alert and is concerned about the steady fires at public buildings. Only last month, a Saturday afternoon fire destroyed sections of the Brickam Police Station in Georgetown.

Also at the scene today was Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn, who was actively behind firefighters strategising to get the blaze under control.

“When I got here, they were mattresses and files being brought out of the Office of Professional Responsibility, but in respect of these, two-thirds of the building [was on fire] so I don’t think there was much that could’ve been saved here,” Benn said.

Nevertheless, the Minister stated that they will be a lot of work in the upcoming weeks to get the OPR relocated so that it can sort out its files and return to operations. He added that the same will be done for the DPP Chambers and the Force’s barracks.

Saturday’s fire also saw the presence of several other top government officials including Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips; Legal Affairs Minister and Attorney General, Anil Nandlall S.C.; Education Minister, Priya Manickchand, and Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat.