Renewed calls for more residents to install smoke detectors in homes

A massive blaze in Greenbay on July 24 is believed to have killed one man and destroyed four homes (Observer photo)
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 A senior fire official has renewed calls for residents to install potentially life-saving smoke detectors in their homes.

The department’s Public Relations Officer Inspector Lester Bagot made the call on Wednesday morning, in the wake of two recent house fires which have left several residents homeless and one believed dead.

A Hatton man lost his home last Thursday, three days after a massive blaze broke out in Greenbay destroying four houses. A badly burnt body yet to be formally identified was found in one of them.

In January, another catastrophic inferno wiped out three houses and is also thought to have killed a 16-year-old boy.

Bagot is adamant that having more smoke detectors in homes would play a crucial role in preventing disasters, by detecting fires more promptly and alerting emergency services.

“Fires start very small and if you can get the fire in that small stage, you can out it. A smoke detector and a fire extinguisher will go a long way … in saving property but if you don’t have one, by the time you are alerted the fire would be too big for you,” Bagot explained.

For the first six months of this year, 23 house fires were recorded, a slight increase on the 19 recorded during the same period last year.

Several of those fires are still under investigation but Bagot said the “likely cause could be electrical”. 

The fire official also had an appeal for members of the public who have criticised the department for slow response times to blazes, along with bringing inadequate water supply.

He explained that fire tenders can only hold a certain amount of water, but said the recent addition of extra trucks has dramatically helped to improve water capacity.

“We are asking the public just to be patient with us as we acquire more fire trucks and we will be able to respond with a lot more water,” Bagot said.

He mentioned that having working fire hydrants also plays a key role; fire hydrants which are out of action, Bagot added, is a consistent challenge the department faces.

Regarding the slow response to fires, Bagot said that most times the fire stations have “no idea that there is a fire”.

He is advising people to call 911 immediately so that the relevant fire station can be dispatched quickly.

Bagot was speaking on state media when he made these comments.

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