Friday, April 19, 2024

Bajan Firefighters Charity continues smoke alarm drive


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More than 30 householders are in line to get smoke alarms as the Bajan Fire Fighters’ Network continues its installation initiative.

With Independence activities turning up a notch and Christmas festivities getting started in earnest next month, chief administrative officer of the registered charity Glyne Alleyne said it was important for them to resume the programme which was paused during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He told The Nation a team was in The Pine, St Michael on Thursday, where they replaced a dead battery in a device and would be at the homes of the elderly and members of the disabled community in other areas to either install new devices or check their condition.

“We’ve got about 15 other persons from the Barbados National Organisation of the Disabled we have to install smoke alarms for today. In the past few weeks, we’ve done about 30 homes. The elderly and disabled persons are assisted because we believe able-bodied persons can purchase their alarms from the hardware stores.

“We are trying to cater to the vulnerable groups because in Barbados. The three categories of persons who will most likely die in a house fire are children, the elderly, and the disabled. That’s why our message has been so curtailed because we recognised this based on historical data,” he said.

After resuming about four months ago, the fire officer and civilian volunteers who make up the charity were forced to pause for another issue, but it is full steam ahead until supplies are exhausted. Normally, one team per day carries out the work.

Alleyne said the alarms are donated from firefighters overseas and they “try to encourage corporate Barbados, if they can, to assist us”.

“This programme has been going on for a couple of years. We made a commitment to the Council for the Disabled to put one smoke alarm, at least, in the home of every disabled person in Barbados. We install the devices and when supply runs out, we get more and restart. COVID put us in a bind as we couldn’t go into persons’ homes as we would like, and we stopped. Once the prime minister relaxed the restrictions and things started returning to normal, we reactivated it.

Volunteer Winfield Jones affixes a smoke alarm above this entryway. (GP)

“Elderly persons either call our charity or sometimes they call the Barbados Fire Service’s Fire Prevention Unit. If they (unit) have alarms, they do the installation if they don’t, they will refer calls to us,” he said.

Following last year’s success with another programme, Operation P.A.T.H.W.A.Y.S. – Promoting Awareness Through Humanitarian Works Around Yuletide Season – Alleyne said it restarts on November 15. Messages are transmitted via their social media in an effort “to heighten the level of awareness”, “educate the public on the potential hazards” and reduce “carelessness and negligence going into the holiday season”.

Additionally, Bajan Firefighters’ Network, which started as a group in 2001 to tackle public safety before morphing into a full-fledged charity in 2015, is aiming to start a youth explorer programme.

“We’re going to expose kids to learning and adventure-based activities. We have adopted St Ambrose Primary so we’re going to start with them,” he said.

He said they assisted in other ways.

“We get a lot of requests from PTAs (parent-teacher associations) to do online zoom meetings on fire safety and we provide training as well for community-based groups. We’ve done training for DEOS (district emergency organisations) preparing them for disasters and other emergencies. We also have Project H.A.R.T – Humanitarian Assistance Response Programme – where we trained members of the charity in disaster preparedness and response.

“All our work is voluntary. We have fire officers and civilians who volunteer their time. Next year we would like to more dedicated volunteers come forward and greater support from corporate Barbados because everything costs money and that can be very restrictive to us undertaking certain projects because the funding isn’t there,” said Alleyne who said he was aware and understands the financial constraints businesses are grappling with at this time. (GBM)




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