Fewer fire calls, more medical emergencies – Fire Service reports


At the end of September 2021, the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) said it recorded a significant decrease in the number of reports of fires when compared to the same period in 2020.

On Thursday, Chief Fire Officer (ag) Gregory Wickham informed reporters that the fire service responded to a total of 832 fire calls to date. When compared to the same period in 2020, the GFS record shows 1,639 fire calls were made, representing a 43% decrease.

“The Fire Service, over the years, has been working assiduously to ensure that this number remains or even be reduced further when it comes to the end of the year for the response of the Guyana Fire Service for fire calls,” Wickham told media operatives.

He raised concerns with the high number of prank calls received but noted that the fire service has no other option but to respond to each fire call it receives.

On the other hand, the Chief Fire Officer said too that another major aspect of the GFS – the Emergency Medical Services System – recorded 4,728 calls representing a more than 50% increase when compared to the same period in 2020.

“It is obvious that we have more calls for medical assistance this year as against last year and even if you were to make a comparison with fire calls as against calls for medical assistance, we will see that the percentage would be far greater for the number of instances where EMS had to respond,” the acting Fire Chief explained.

Asked if he felt that the COVID-19 pandemic was responsible for the increase in ambulance calls, Wickam said: “our ambulance staff don’t respond to COVID issues. There is a unit at the national COVID center that does that response… but we will not expose our people.”

Wickham assured that, despite what occurred with the Brickdam Police Station fire, the Fire Service is always ready to respond to reports.  The Fire Service came in for criticism from President Irfaan Ali after a huge blaze destroyed 80% of the Brickdam Police Station a week ago.

“I am publicly putting the fire service on [warning]… this cannot and will not be tolerated,” President Ali said following the Fire Service’s response to the fire.

The President pointed out that hundreds of millions of dollars were spent in the last year to boost the fire service’s response and “to put it crudely, you cannot respond to a fire in your backyard.”

Ali affirmed that government cannot continue to make investments in the public service and not have returns, adding that inefficiency has to be weeded out.

The President said too that the response by the fire service to the Brickdam fire on Saturday had nothing to do with assets and resources but the unpreparedness by the service.

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