Response of Fire Service to city fire hampered by garbage-covered hydrant

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The response of the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) to a fire at the former Sachi’s Variety Store building on Regent Street, Georgetown was hampered by the built up of garbage around one of the fire hydrants.

Fire Chief, Marlon Gentle told reporters at the scene on Sunday night that the GFS received a call at about 20:30h about a pile of garbage on fire on Regent Street.

However, upon approaching the location, firemen from the Alberttown Fire Station noticed “large flames” and called for backup.

“By the time we got here, the fire had already penetrated this building and the two upper floors were alight. We went to a third alarm and the units from Campbellville and West [Ruimveldt] were summoned,” Gentle said.

Firefighters attempting to enter the Sachi’s building [November 08, 2020]
While the first fire tender was able to connect to a fire hydrant in the vicinity, the second one was not able to do so since the hydrant was covered with garbage.

“We located one hydrant and the other hydrant we had to do some debris clearing,” the Fire Chief told reporters.

He noted that this is not the first time the first responded encountered such an issue. In some cases, he said the hydrants are even covered by derelict vehicles.

As such, he urged that “citizens should have more responsibility, a fire hydrant is not there…to be used to park cars and so. It is there for these situations. If we get there and those hydrants are not functional or could not be located, it delays our response.”

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn who was also at the scene, said he will look into the issue. The fire was eventually extinguished after more than two hours.

The building, which was damaged by fire in February 2020, was rented to several businesses. The business owners have estimated their losses to be in the millions of dollars.

The Fire Chief said efforts will be made to determine the cause of the fire.

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