By Carlena Knight
Recently retired Fire Chief Elvis Weaver is adamant that a stringent fire code needs to be implemented in Antigua and Barbuda.
Weaver referred to rules in some other countries where it is mandatory for persons to have smoke detectors in homes and business places.
This, along with a number of other suggestions, is what Weaver believes the Fire Department would propose if it was to separate from the police force.
“As it stands right now, we don’t have a building code so we can enforce laws. Man, you go into some buildings in Antigua and they have one door in, one door out, and those things are dangerous but we can’t just go and talk to someone,” he told Observer on Monday, on the eve of his retirement yesterday.
“We can only go and talk to them and if they want to change, they change. But, if we had a building code now, we could say, ‘hey look, I am giving you three months to rectify this, six months to rectify this, and if by the time you don’t do that, then we will shut you down’,” Weaver said.
He explained that there have been instances, when asked by the Development Control Authority (DCA), that the Fire Department has given an assessment and recommendations, but little was done by applicants to amend their structures accordingly.
Weaver continued that because there are no stringent laws in place, some structures receive the go-ahead despite showing several red flags.
He also spoke to the hosting of events during Carnival, such as the Party Monarch show and various fetes, noting that the department should be consulted in the planning stages.
“The Fire Department is supposed to be consulted on these kinds of events to tell you, look [Antigua] Recreation Grounds can hold only 10,000 people safely.
“Anything after that you just cannot put anyone else in the venue but people just go and do as they like, basically,” he added.
Weaver – who also had the title of Assistant Commissioner of Police – was the force’s longest serving officer, having joined in 1979.