After Guyana tragedy, Kamla calls for improved fire safety in Trinidad and Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar – Photo by Sureash Cholai

AFTER a major fire which killed 19 students in Guyana, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is calling on the relevant authorities to upgrade fire safety and security measures across the country.

On Sunday, eighteen girls and one boy were killed in a fire at a secondary school dormitory in Mahdia, Guyana.

Persad-Bissessar said Caricom has been plunged into mourning after this incident.

In addition, she recalled a fire which occurred in April in Siparia – her constituency – and killed Kemba Morris and her eight-year-old daughter Zaya Morris.

“As a parent myself, I can only imagine the pain and grief that the families of these children and Kemba are feeling.

“We in TT must learn from these tragedies and must move to prevent any similar occurrence.”

She said she is calling on State authorities to: carry out a fire safety and security assessment of all children’s homes, juvenile detention facilities, retirement homes and homes for the elderly; upgrade any State-owned or state-financed facility to meet the necessary fire safety and security standards; cause similar upgrades to be implemented at all similar privately run facilities; conduct fire safety and security assessments for all schools; upgrade all schools to meet necessary fire safety and security standards; develop and implement emergency and evacuation procedures that are specific for all schools, children’s homes, juvenile detention facilities, retirement homes and homes for the elderly; immediately conduct training with all staff at these places to handle emergencies for a limited period until the protective services arrive on site; practice mandatory emergency and evacuation drills in all schools at least twice per school term and at least 3 times per year in the other facilities.

She also urged members of the public to implement similar plans and procedures at their businesses and homes.

“Even the most basic emergency and evacuation plan, if well-rehearsed, can save your own life or your loved ones. Plans, preparation and practice will save lives and prevent tragedy,” she said.