Friday, December 31, 2010

Final Ride For Fallen Fireman

Acting Station Officer Christopher Ricardo Edwards rode on many fire trucks during his 35-year fire fighting career, only this time he did not get off to battle a raging blaze.

Yesterday, his flag draped casket on top the Bronco turntable fire truck, flanked by fire officers, rolled slowly into the St Lucy’s Parish Church, thronged by mourners who gathered to bid farewell to Edwards who died on December 15, electrocuted by a live power cable while responding to a fire in Station Hill, St Peter.

Edwards, who lived at Reservoir Road, Ashton Hall, in the same parish, was laid to rest in the churchyard of All Saints Anglican Church after being eulogised for his selfless dedication, loyalty and friendliness.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Lucene Wharton-Issac, Cabinet Ministers and other heads of departments and representatives of fire services across the region, headed the list of officials who paid their final respects.

In the eulogy, Leading Fire Officer Samuel Carrington said Edwards’ dedication exemplified the Fire Service’s motto, Excellence Through Service and as a result, he gained the admiration and respect of Chief Fire Officer Wilfred Marshall, other officers and his subordinates with whom he came into contact on a daily basis.

Chief Fire Officer Wilfred Marshall reminisced on a friendship with Edwards which spanned more than three decades. and praised him for sharing his knowledge with other staff and his dedication to duty.

Rector of St Lucy’s Parish Church Reverend Curtis Goodridge reminded the congregation that they need not fear death as long as their spiritual lives were grounded in Jesus Christ.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Final Respects

Former Acting Station Officer Christopher "German" Edwards spent his last day at Barbados Fire Service headquarters on Probyn Street today.

And it was an emotional time for many who knew the 57-year-old fireman, who died in a freak accident on December 15 in Station Hill, St Peter.

He was electrocuted while handling a high tension wire when he and a crew responded to a call of a house fire.

Many tears were shed as fire fighters filed past the body of the veteran officer as others formed a guard of honour.

From 10 this morning until 3 p.m., hundreds of Barbadians also paid their last respects to the fire officer who will be laid to rest tomorrow at the All Saints Church, St. Peter after a service at the St. Lucy Parish Church at 3 p.m.

The Ashton Hall, St. Peter resident joined the service 35 years ago, with Chief Fire Officer Wilfred Marshall. (DS)

Source: 2010/12/29

Many Pay Final Respects To Fallen Fireman

Scores of people passed through the Barbados Fire Service’s headquarters in Bridgetown yesterday, with the sole purpose of paying their respects to the first ever fire officer to lose his life in the line of duty on the island.

Christopher Edwards, 57, from Ashton Hall, St. Peter, died last week Wednesday when he was electrocuted after coming in contact with a live Barbados Light & Power cable. He was responding to an emergency call in Station Hill, St. Peter.

Family, friends and colleagues – all proudly wearing pins displaying an image of Christopher – were allowed to view his body, which was closely guarded by two fire officers for the duration of the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. viewing. Many persons who did not know him also expressed to this newspaper that they felt the need to take the time to pay their respects.

As mourners entered the Probyn Street building, most signed the two condolence books that were provided before greeting Edwards’ wife, Cheryl, and moving on to view the body. Mourners included Chief Fire Officer Wilfred Marshall and Christopher’s brother, Martin Edwards.

A montage of pictures bearing the title “1953-2010 Memories Don’t Leave You” and featuring Christopher with his family and his firefighting colleagues, was on show next to the body, capturing moments throughout his life. One image showed his wedding day, another his time spent at the St. John Fire Station as well as him having fun playing his guitar.

His wife, who was positioned near the entrance, was a pillar of strength as she was often the comforter of many clearly grief-stricken friends and family members.

In speaking to the Barbados Advocate, she shared her memories on the life of her departed partner.

“He was quite a jovial man and very popular amongst his friends. He also loved a good beer and loved a good lime, spending a lot of time at the market behind this station, in Marhill Street, the City and in Speightstown close to home,” she recalled.

She added that he loved to play cricket, evidenced by his prominence as a member of the Barbados Fire Service Cricket team at the time of his death.

Cheryl also shared that he was now the fourth of seven siblings to leave this earth, leaving to mourn his brother Martin and two sisters.

Edwards, who was stationed at Probyn Street until his death, will be laid to rest today at the St. Lucy Parish Church, while the interment will take place at the All Saints Anglican Church.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Message From Fire Chief Wilfred Marshall

The Barbados Fire Service is cognisant of the energy, the excitement and the emphasis which is associated with the traditions of this Yuletide season.

It is a time when no effort is spared to convey to all relatives, neighbours and friends the spirit of love, gratitude and goodwill. The exercise of these attributes is best received when your manner is cheerful but in the delivery you must be careful.

When every scenario you imagine seems to be going according to plan, there is the tendency to become complacent and to lose focus of the basic but essential principles of safety and due care. The consequences of an error in judgment because you have pushed yourself to the limit to accomplish last-minute preparations can incur significant loss of property and sometimes life.

The Barbados Fire Service is committed to the reduction of property damage and loss. Our commitment is no less fervent when it comes to the preservation of life.

We as a society endured the horror of fatalities by fire earlier this year and more recently the fire service has been faced with the first line-of-duty death since it was established in Barbados. These circumstances are never easy but we have a duty to put the requisite systems in place to mitigate against these types of events.

As great and noble as our efforts may be, we cannot achieve this feat alone. This is why the strongest appeal is being made for all citizens to exercise vigilance, care and caution during this festive season.

String your lights but ensure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. If there is any uncertainty or reservations, consult a qualified electrician. Light your candles but keep them away from flammable and combustible materials, away from curtains and away from wooden surfaces. Cook whatever meals you intend to but do not leave the open flames unattended for long periods.

Keep small children away from the kitchen and away from lighted Christmas trees. Do not overload electrical circuits and do not carry out any critical function in the kitchen or otherwise if you have been consuming alcohol excessively or have been taking medication, especially those that cause drowsiness.
So far for this month fire calls are down significantly, registering 74 calls for all categories as compared to 215 for December 2009. For the month so far private dwelling house fires stand at four as compared to seven in December 2009. For the same period, there were no commercial building fires. Grass fires, which reached 108 last December, now stand at 20.

The annual statistics however paint a slightly different picture. Fires overall in 2009 were 1 990 but to date there are 2 585. Private dwelling house fire calls increased from 86 in 2009 to 133 for the year so far. Commercial buildings increased from 19 to 28, grass fires went up from 909 to 1 329, and sugar canes from 107 to 154. These figures represent the major categories of fire but most other categories also showed increases.

Our major concern at this time is with the private dwelling house fires. There are already too many and we are asking everyone to make a very special effort to pay attention to safety in the home. Check and recheck before you leave home. Only leave required items plugged in. Check the gas bottle. Ensure that you put out all open flames which you may have lit.

Let us make this Christmas season one to be remembered not because something went wrong through carelessness, but because everything went right through carefulness. (BGIS)

Merry Christmas

We extend our very best wishes for the Holiday Season.

We wish you an abundance of friends, happiness, good health, peace and love...

Merry Christmas to you all.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fire Chief Waves Red Flag

Chief Fire Officer Wilfred Marshall is urging Barbadians to exercise caution and due vigilance on fire safety, especially during this season. He stated that although the department was prepared to handle any emergency which may arise, it would be placing ads and messages in the public domain to reinforce safety measures.

"I would really like to see a significant reduction in the number of fires. I am concerned that we have gone past the amount of structural fires this year, compared to last year and this is a great worry for me, because this department spends a lot of time and energy on programmes educating the public about fire safety. That is where we put our focus, in an effort to reduce damage to property in this country," Marshall stressed.

Noting that the loss of a house significantly impacts upon a family, the fire chief intimated that once a tragedy of this magnitude occurs the entire chain is affected. "We can stop this through our fire prevention information, but the public must also be vigilant and play their part," he added.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Brief Ceremony In Memory of Fallen Firefighter

Chief Fire Officer Wilfred Marshall and several members of the Barbados Fire Service, Happy Crew community group and residents of St Peter came out this morning to the area where acting Station Officer Edwards was killed in the line of duty on Wednesday.

During the brief ceremony a wreath was laid near the spot where Edwards died. Tributes were also presented by his wife Cheryl and Fire Chief Wilfred Marshall with Reverend Curtis Goodridge a close friend of Edwards as the officiating Minister.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Senior Firefighter Killed In The Line Of Duty

The Barbados Fire Service today mourns the tragic loss of one of its members. Acting Station Officer Christopher Edwards was killed in the line of duty last night after he came into contact with a live power line after responding to an emergency call. Reports indicate that Edwards was electrocuted at the scene of the emergency call.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, relatives, friends and all members of the Barbados Fire Service during this time of profound loss.

Please note that tributes, condolences and other expressions of sympathy can be posted via our Facebook page under the topic "Fire Service Condolences" located in the discussions forum, see link below.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Associate Degree For Firemen

Barbados' chief fire officer Wilfred Marshall says his officers are moving to improve their certification locally.

Moments after receiving several pieces of equipment from the Florida-based Hillsborough Community College, the fire chief said that they were currently working with the Barbados Community College to get an associate degree programme in fire science going.

"That is being worked on as we speak. This is a collaboration between the Barbados Community College and Hillsborough Community College. There are a number of little details to be worked out," he said, adding that the parties involved met as recently as yesterday to discuss the developments.

Dean of the associate science programmes at Hillsborough, Jack Evans said that they were working on an arrangement where when trainers from that Community College provided instruction to local fire officers, the BCC would receive the grades and be able to apply them to the transcripts of those officers here towards their degrees.

Marshall added: "We are working towards ensuring that Barbadian firefighters and by extension Caribbean firefighters have a facility resource where they can upgrade their education in terms of their certification and qualification in fire science.

"The whole world is moving away from just plain paper, now you have to show that you have received the particular qualification and credits in the disciplines. We are moving forward in the Fire Service as well in that respect."

Currently, he said, a number of the officers sought their own qualifications in areas including management courses at the University of the West Indies. He said though that it was becoming increasingly popular in recent years for officers to complete their associate degrees in fire science in Kentucky, and as the administrators of the service, they were trying to ensure that there was more local training related to their profession.

"So while they are going after the general education, we as the Fire Service administration are seeking to make sure they have the opportunity to seek fire related qualifications. We look forward to the day when Barbadians can apply for work in any other Caribbean country and we have access to qualifications where we can say we have done this and done that, rather than the chief of the service saying he was part of the service and this is what he did."

He said he believed the improved qualification could certainly lift the profile of the service and the officers, as the public sometimes held the view that the service was a brawn rather than a brains required profession.

"We are now talking a lot more about fire prevention activities, we are talking about Hazmat situations which does not require brawns but requires brains and that is the type of fire officer we are also trying to attract. So when we have them in the service, that is the direction we want to go."

The Service this morning received four Hazmat training suits; three contamination showers, 45 harnesses, 27 oxygen cylinders and 17 personal alert safety devices in the donation from the Hillsborough College. (LB)


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Extension Cords & Holiday Electrical Safety tips from ESFI

Here is another informative video from the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to offer you guidance during this festive season. Remember: "Don't invite FIRE to your holiday celebrations."

Holiday Electrical Safety Reminders

The holiday season is a prime time for accidents to happen. Seasonal food preparation, decorations and Christmas lighting are the leading causes of accidental fires occurring during the festive period. The following informative video from the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is presented for your information.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Tree Safety - UL Safety Tour

Here is another informative video by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) about live Christmas trees and the appropriate precautions to be observed during the festive season. Should you have questions or need clarification feel free to contact us:

Christmas Tree Safety

The Holiday Season is with us once again, and so we present these helpful fire safety tips to guide you as your preparations for the festive season continues. This video is brought to you by the National Fire Protection Association.... Remember be fire smart.