OPINION: Public Outrage over the fiery destruction of Brickdam Police Station – by Francis Quamina Farrier

Guyana Police Force Badge

– by Francis Quamina Farrier

Guyanese both at home and abroad are outraged at the circumstances which led up to the alleged arson destruction of the Brickdam Police Station on Saturday, October 2, 2021.

Official reports state that the self-confessed suspect, Clarence Greene, “was arrested early Saturday morning (October 2, 2021), for armed robbery, but after several hours in the lockups, he became frustrated and started the fire which destroyed over 80 percent of the Brickdam Police Station.” Was this suspect body searched by the police before he was placed in the lock-ups, bearing in mind that he was arrested for the serious crime of armed robbery; people need to know.

In court, the accused is now saying that the video confession was taken under duress, and he is not guilty.

PHOTO: The Brickdam Police Station, January 2020, totally destroyed by fire on Saturday, October 2, 2021. Only the blue sign remains at this time. (Copyright Photo by Francis Quamina Farrier)

The police report states that Clarence Greene started the fire using a cigarette lighter. How was that detained person who was charged for armed robbery allowed to have a cigarette lighter in his possession when placed in the wooden police station cell? The police report further states that “Greene tore a piece of mattress from the cell, hooked it on a piece of wire, lit it with the cigarette lighter which started the fire.” Now, were there any fire extinguishers within the police station? If not, why not? After all, the building is wooden.

The police report further states that after the fire started, “Greene and other prisoners were relocated to the Sparendaam Police Station,” which is about six miles away on the lower East Coast Demerara. So, the alleged perpetrator of the biggest fire on a Police Station in the history of Guyana, was immediately taken away to safety, while property owners near-by, including parliamentarian Cathy Hughes, was seen scrambling to save valuable items and documents from her office and that of her husband attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes, which is nearby.

Outraged Guyanese want to know what is the fire-fighting capabilities not only at the Brickdam Police station, but also at Police Headquarters, and in fact at all police stations and police Out-Posts in the ten regions of the country. Citizens also need to be enlightened whether there are regular Fire Drills not only at Police Stations, but also at other institutions such as private and public Hospitals, schools and other government departments where many people dwell on a regular basis.

Guyana is a country with a high percentage of many quite beautiful wooden buildings and there ought to be a strong culture of Fire Prevention. Fire Drills at least twice a year would keep those who work at private or public facilities and enterprises, in shape for any eventuality. It is expected that the Private Sector should also have useful fire-fighting equipment which can be deployed as the first means of quelling a small fire before it develops into a raging conflagration, unmanageable even after the arrival of the professional Fire Service officers and fire tenders.

Fire hydrants in the city should be in proper working order, and not like the present situation where so many fire hydrants are non-functional. All city canals from which water is sourced for fighting fires, should always be properly desilted.

It will be recalled a few years ago, that a fire was stopped early at BANKS DIH Limited Thirst Park Facilities because of the Fire-fighting equipment and capabilities of the staffers of the company to deal with such an eventuality, were already in place. More Private Companies need to follow the example of BANKS DIH and have fire-fighting equipment and fire drills for their staffers. The drill should decide where would staffers safely congregate should a fire occur. Who would marshal the staffers, who would try without putting their lives in jeopardy, to do what it takes to safely get precious documents away from the location and exactly where to take them in the situation. Staffers should be trained to keep cool heads and be focused on safely saving as much valuable property and documents as soon as possible after the alarm would have been raised.

Georgetown has lost many of its prized wooden buildings to fire. The Park Hotel, as well as the Sacred Heart Catholic Church were located on Main Street. Then there was a large section of the South Block of the Georgetown Public Hospital being among them. Most of the buildings have been rebuilt – mainly in concrete. But others like the Park Hotel on Main Street have not been rebuilt as yet. That location remains a grim reminder of the ravages of fires on priceless wooden buildings, especially in our capital city, Georgetown.

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Comments

  • Kman  On 10/10/2021 at 4:17 pm

    Staffers, what or who are they?
    Should that read, employees, customers/clients, and visitors?

  • WIC  On 10/10/2021 at 8:13 pm

    Ah come on Kman, it’s a very well thought out and written opinion and you should know he means employees of all levels. Give credit where it’s due.

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