The Virgin Islands Fire & Rescue Service has reported a drastic increase in backyard fires since government imposed a territorial curfew.
This is according to Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Zebalon McLean who told BVI News his department now receives at least one call per day for backyard fires.
“One thing that is unusual during this time with regards to our level of response is the fact that a lot of persons are engaging in backyard burning and this is something that we’ve always tried to discourage,” McLean stated.
“We would usually be called for control burning maybe twice a week, and now it is just about every day. Between [last] Friday and Sunday, we had seven calls,” he added.
No excuse for burning good enough
McLean said although some residents have been giving logical arguments to defend their actions, no excuse is good enough to put the lives of others in danger.
“Persons would tell us that the burning is being conducted on their private property, or they are trying to get rid of some trash … We understand all of that but the problem that continues to surface is that when you burn your smoke it usually affects somebody else,” McLean reasoned.
“We have had persons who have been living next to people who continue to burn, and it is really only a matter of time before they develop some sort of respiratory ailment that they are not going to recover from, and that is just how the body works,” the fire chief added.
He continued: “Sometimes you have persons who have asthmatic conditions who are in the homes and barely made it to nebulizers, barely made it to inhalers, barely made it to fresh air, and those are the kind of close calls we’re not going to be always to get away with, he said.”
Properly dispose of waste and refrain from burning
Backyard burning has increased at a time when residents are prohibited to leave their homes to dispose of garbage. However, government has now introduced a curbside garbage collection system during the ongoing curfew period.
McLean urged residents to adhere to the tips provided by the Department of Waste Management for the proper disposal of waste, and refrain from backyard burning.
These tips include flattening cardboard boxes and small plastic water bottles to reduce volume; rinsing all cans, bottles, eggshells and other similar waste to help reduce odour and prevent flies, and storing waste in tightly-sealed plastic bags.
During the curfew period, the Department of Waste Management will be collecting residential waste on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 am.
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