Trinidad/Tobago — This advice comes as fire officials confirmed that for the first three months of the year, a whopping 2,400 calls were made to the TT Fire Service about major fires which led to losses to property, vehicles and forest and bush cover.
A senior official yesterday said the fire permits which have been in existence for many years come under the Agriculture Fires Act and applies during the period from December to June the dry season.
Fire officials also said the majority of the reports of bush and other fires reported were caused by man. Throwing lighted cigarette butts out of the windows of vehicles has been identified as a major source of bush fires along roadways and highways. Slash and burn is another major culprit, officials say.
Their warnings come after Acting Chief Fire Officer Kenrick Bethelmy in February warned that like other institutions which use water, the Fire Service is also feeling the brunt of the drought. He advised that people take more responsibility for their actions and to desist from the unnecessary burning of items since a small fire, in these extremely hot and dry conditions, could rapidly become a major inferno threatening buildings, vehicles and even lives.
Bethelmy said that while the TT Fire Service remains committed to dealing with all reports of fires, because of the acute water shortage, it may not be able to respond to all calls for help in a timely manner even as WASA has assured that it will partner with it.
To illustrate this point, on Sunday last, a major bush fire at the back of the Valencia Police Post in East Trinidad spread to the yard of the post, igniting and destroying several vehicles parked on the compound.
Some of these vehicles were kept as evidence in criminal cases while others were involved in accidents. Policemen at the post even had to temporarily abandon the station when smoke engulfed the building. Three hours after the blaze started, the Fire service arrived and this was because the firemen were dealing with other major bush fires in other areas.