Thursday, October 21, 2010

Firefighter Games In Arima

The Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service Association will host the Caribbean Association of Firefighters (CAFF) Good Will Games tomorrow at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima.

The games, which begin at 10 am, will be attended by fire officers from Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Kitt’s and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Minister of Sports Anil Roberts, Minister in the Ministry of National Security Subhas Panday, and Chief Fire Officer Carl Williams are all expected to kick off the games with a special salute ceremony to all the officers from the region.

CAFF President Charles Ramsaroop described the event as a significant milestone for the Association, as it showed their strong attempts at integrating a uniformed system throughout the Caribbean through training, sporting events, and cultural activities.

“We would all have different backgrounds and different levels of training. This event brings together all those things in a very unique way,” Ramsaroop explained.

The event is also expected to continue on Saturday.

The CAFF was established on October 26, 2000 in Castries, St Lucia. The Association provides an umbrella organisation for fire fighters in the Caribbean by presenting a united body geared towards improving the conditions of respective fire departments through education and other basic support services. It recognises fire fighters as professionals who work relentlessly, forever raising professional standards.


Fire At Sam Lord’s Castle

People watched in awe, despair, disgust and a slew of other emotions as historic Sam Lords Castle burned yesterday evening.

Spectators from the surrounding area gathered to watch fire officials unsuccessfully battle the blaze which consumed the once stately building.

Shareholder, Thomas Grant, called it a “disgrace”.

“It is a disgrace to see the building left this way and now it has gone up in smoke,” he said.

Grant said most of the buildings had already been destroyed by CLICO, who were in the process of acquiring the property, and the castle section was one of the few buildings left.

Divisional Officer, Tyrone Trotman, said one of the problems they faced was a lack of nearby fire hydrants so they had to collect water from hydrants in the surrounding area and bring it to the combined ladder platform appliance for distribution.

As the evening wore on, the fire continued to burn, when asked, Trotman said he had little hope of saving the building.


Island’s Only ‘Castle’ Gutted By Fire

A piece of Barbadian history last night went up in flames.

Sam Lord’s Castle, the historic hotel property acquired by CLICO from previous owner Thomas Grant, was gutted by a fire which set the St. Phillip sky ablaze yesterday evening. The flames, which first appeared in the roof during the late afternoon, soon became a raging fire that engulfed the building as the evening progressed.

Acting Fire Chief Lloydson Phillips told the Barbados Advocate that his department received reports of the fire at 5:41 p.m. and responded immediately. The scene was attended by five senior officers, 18 junior officers and five fire trucks. However, it was of little use as the main building was already overwhelmed by the bright orange flames.

“The whole building was engulfed,” said acting Division Officer, Tyrone Trotman. However, firefighters made efforts to contain the fire to the building, which was surrounded by thick vegetation.

“We are using a combined attack – aerial ladder platform and ground attack by the hoselines,” explained Trotman.

He was however unable to give an estimate of how long it would take to extinguish the fire, which was still burning as 7 p.m. approached.

President of CLICO (Barbados) Holdings, Terrence Thornhill, described the event as “terribly and extremely sad”, given the plans the company had for restoring the resort.

Former chairman and director CLICO, Leroy Parris, told this newspaper he was “disappointed” at the news of the fire. He also commented that it was a shame for such a historic building to have been lost in such a manner.

Former owner, Thomas Grant, told reporters at the scene that it was “heartbreaking” to watch the demise of the Regency mansion, built in 1820.

“It’s just a really hurtful situation this afternoon. To see a property like this which is so historic… and it’s just gone up in flames.”

His sentiments were echoed by several of the many onlookers at the scene, who commented on how moved they were to see such a Barbadian icon being destroyed by fire. As they watched, parts of the building collapsed, sending ash, small flames and plumes of dark smoke into the night sky. One gentleman commented, “It’s really a shame. It shouldn’t have come to this. That’s a piece of Barbadian history being lost right there.”

CLICO acquisition

In CLICO’s 2007 Chairman's Report and Annual Report, then chairman Leroy Parris stated, “Our acquisition of Sam Lord’s Castle is a courageous act and one born of the firm conviction that we must play a direct role in advancing this industry [tourism]. Our investment in the Sam Lord’s Castle hotel project will exceed US $200 million and will play a major role in the revitalisation of the South East corridor of Barbados.”

Then in a January 27, 2009 press conference, CLICO officials announced that construction on a planned $300 million hotel and condominium project at Sam Lord’s Castle by CLICO Holdings Barbados Ltd. was expected to begin in the second quarter of 2009. In addition, President Thornhill said the company was in discussion with a flagship hotel brand to partner on the project, and these negotiations were close to conclusion.

Just three days later, however, the financial stability of CLICO (Barbados) came under intense scrutiny when news broke that a Memorandum of Understanding was agreed on between its parent company C.L. Financial, the Trinidad Government and the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago to assist CLICO (Trinidad) with certain challenges.

Yesterday, Thornhill confirmed that those troubles with the parent company had prevented CLICO (Barbados) from moving ahead with their redevelopment plans at Sam Lord’s.

Government proposes buy-out

After the onset of CLICO’s financial woes, Government late last year announced its intention to buy out the property from CLICO, and noted that is was seeking a joint venture arrangement to assist with the restoration of the site of the former Marriott’s Resort.

While there has no been confirmation of the sale going through, when asked about the plans for the property last night at the scene of the fire, Thornhill indicated that it would be up to Government. He told the media that given that Government has decided to compulsorily acquire the property, it would be up to them to redevelop the now gutted property.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Fire Service Cruise 2010

"Foot On Fire Pon De Boat"

The officers and members of the Barbados Fire Service Sports and Social Club will take to the sea for their annual cruise on Friday, October 22, 2010 on board the M.V. Harbour Master from 10:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m.

Tickets can be obtained from Ryan Lovell 242-5533, David Vaughan 252-9199, Troy Gibbons 263-8712 or Grantley Greene 243-0824. Advance tickets are $45.00 and $50.00 at the dockside.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cafe Sol: We Will Reopen

A “labour of love” is how co owner of Cafe Sol Jacinta Cothrin describes the Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar which was extensively damaged by fire in the early this morning.

Jacinta, and her husband Mark Cothrin, say they received the call around 6 a.m.

“Apparently, the fire happened just after 4 a.m but nobody managed to get through to us until minutes to six. Right now, we are not sure as to the extent of the damage as the police is not allowing anyone inside,” says Mark. The property is insured he says.

Jacinta describes it as a “precious little spot” and says what happened was “awful”. “It was a very personal thing for is and it really hurts but we are determined to reopen, we won’t let this stop us,” she says.

Fire officials report that two water tenders - one from Worthing and one from Probyn Street headquarters - responded to the fire. The operation was under the command of Divisional Officer Evans Morris. Investigations are continuing.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rescued Driver’s Dad Tells Story

It happened in a flash.

One minute Charlotte Parris was sitting in her car waiting patiently for another vehicle to proceed through water; the next thing she knew she was deep in a ravine, standing on top her vehicle and grabbing onto branches for dear life.

It was Friday evening that firemen and good Samaritans combined their efforts to pull a shaken Parris to safety, using an inner tube and some rope at the Belle, St Michael.

Still too traumatised by last Friday evening’s life-threatening event, Charlotte could not speak to the DAILY NATION, so her father Mike Parris spoke on her behalf, saying his daughter was “unhurt, but still very shaken”.

Parris, who recalled the event that could have claimed his daughter’s life, said she was giving great thanks to the Fire Service for the sterling job they performed in the rescue.

“The Fire Service showed tremendous bravery. They responded very quickly with two tenders to the scene, headed by leading fire officer 80 Boyce.

“I must say a special thank you to 246 McClean – he was the one who jumped into the raging waters. He made an attempt but underestimated the current in the water and had to be pulled out before he could go in again.

“124 Barrow and 290 Harewood, they all came from the headquarters in Probyn Street and they did an excellent job,” he said in the interview.

Parris said he was concerned that the incident could have happened to anyone travelling in that area since the railings there had been broken. He said Government needed to do something urgently about it.

“The area is one where water goes over the road to a ravine at the back. When water rushes down, it goes into a 30-foot ravine.

“My daughter was on dry road waiting for another vehicle to go through water, when something broke, and a four-foot wave came from behind the car, lifted the car, rammed it into the wall, flipped the car around and then burst the barrier and dropped her into the gully,” he recalled.

Parris said “divine intervention” told her to kick open the door.

“When she kicked open the door, the car filled quickly and sank, and then there were some tree stumps which held it in place. Two feet behind the car was a 30-foot well, which the car would have sunk and gone into,” he lamented.

“This is a serious area that the Government needs to sort out and there are 30 to 40-foot drops without any barriers: so it needs to be rectified. That well, too, has concrete blocks all around it, but it is big enough to hold a car,” he noted.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Snatched From Raging Waters

It was a rescue like no other. But firefighters - Andrew Boyce, Pernel McClean, Glenn Harewood and Anderson Barrow were up to the task.

It was their efforts, with the assistance of some civilians that brought Charlotte Parris to safe ground after she was trapped on top her car with raging waters surrounding her.

That rescue took about 15 minutes.

Pernel McClean (left) relives the rescue during an interview with the Nation earlier today. Glenn Harewood was also on the scene using his muscle and might to bring the woman to safety.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Land Rover For Fire Service

For the next two months, the Barbados Fire Service (BFS) will have a Land Rover LR3 at its service.

The BFS was presented with the vehicle which is valued at over $350 000, along with hoses, smoke alarms, first aid kits and fire extinguishers, to assist their Fire Prevention and Community Relations Unit, during a ceremony at their Probyn Street headquarters yesterday.

The materials, which were donated by the Rotary West of Barbados, G4S Security, and Warrens Motors, who also donated the vehicle, will be used to help in assisting the fire service with their fire prevention programmes.

Chief Fire Officer, Wilfred Marshall, who was hand to witness the presentation, explained that for years the BFS had been spreading the message of fire prevention across Barbados, but due to several reasons including a lack of financial and equipment resources, as well as the absence of a dedicated Fire Prevention Unit, their efforts had been short lived.

He pointed out, however, that with the help of those companies who had come on board, the materials would go a long way in supporting the implementation of two of the service’s newest programmes, the Fighting Fire with Fire Prevention (FFFP) and the Home Assistance Smoke Alarm Programme (HASAP).

Sales and Marketing Manager at Warrens Motors, Mark Doherty, who made the presentation, explained that the vehicle would be used to help in delivering the wide range of equipment to the various households around the island.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Swept Away

Fire fighters plucked Charlotte Parris from atop the roof of this car in The Belle, St Michael yesterday after fierce waters forced it off the road and into a gully.

It took the combined efforts of firemen and some good Samaritans to pull a shaken Parris to safety using an inner tube and some rope.

The incident was one of several resulting from the downpour brought on by a combination of light winds and an abundance of low-level moisture and strong daytime heat.

Parts of St Michael, St James and St Thomas were hard-hit by the rains.