– GFS notes serious safety breachesSeveral guests at the Pegasus Hotel had to be treated for smoke inhalation on Sunday evening after a fire broke out in the kitchen area. The fire reportedly started about 22:45h and the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) was summoned to the scene.Upon arrival, the fire-fighters quickly went into firefighting mode thus containing the fire to one area. When Guyana Times arrived at the scene, Station Officer with responsibility for fire prevention Andrew Holder told the media that the fire started as a result of a deep-fryer being left on.This, he noted, caused it to overheat and it eventually ignited the insulation for the extractor. This created a smoke-logged environment. The firefighters, he noted, were able to quickly put out the fire and created some form of ventilation.All efforts were made to ensure that everyone was out of the building. Holder noted that smoke would have at least reached the third floor thus causing some panic among the guests who were staying at the hotel.However, the fire official sighted several safety breaches at the hotel. He noted that the emergency exit doors were chained and padlocked, no fire alarm went off, and staff was not trained to deal with such an occurrence.“The Fire Service does yearly inspections of these premises … but we would not know what is obtained after that inspection … this fire would not prompt another impromptu fire inspection … the exits should not be locked and chained… if it is locked, it should have ways and means of opening them … this is a serious breach of safety and it has severe consequences,” Holder added.He disclosed that only a week ago, the Fire Service had a training programme for hotel operators and staff, but it was poorly attended. “Some of the same stuff that we dealt with at that training occurred here tonight … unmaintained deep fry … what to do if a fire should start in the kitchen area…,” he added.He is hoping that persons take the next fire safety training seriously. Pastor Ellsworth Chester of Brooklyn, New York told Guyana Times that he was on vacation with his children and as he was on the second floor, he started to smell smoke and quickly alerted them, so they made their way out of the building.He added that as he rushed to the emergency exit on the ground floor of the building, the doors were chained and locked. As he rushed to another exit, it was the same thing and it was at that point in time, he made up his mind that he had to go through the thick smoke. In addition, he reportedly went to all the doors on the second floor and alerted the occupants.He was, nevertheless, thankful that no one was severely hurt as a result of the smoke. An investigation was launched into the incident by both the Guyana Fire Service and the Guyana Police Force. No one from management of the hotel was available to speak to the media.
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