Is your daughter working in a Bridgetown firetrap?

Updated: September 3, 2012

The end result for the Campus Trendz fire deaths turned out pretty much as we predicted two years ago: murder charge, guilty plea to manslaughter – but no real changes at all and certainly no public inquest into the deficiencies that contributed to the deaths of six good daughters of Barbados.

Bajan daughters and sons still work in downtown death traps with no way out. We still don’t have a Building Code as law.

The same equipment deficiencies at the Fire Service mean that if Campus Trendz happened again today, the same brave, crying, raging men who had to use manual sledge hammers to beat through the brick behind Campus Trendz would still be using manual sledge hammers – because it’s all they have.

Original article published August 18, 2011…

One year after the Campus Trendz fire, nothing has changed

Stores still have window bars to keep fire victims in the human oven

by BFP reader “K”

One year after the Campus Trendz slaughter, sleep does not come easily for my friend. In her mind she still sees the weeping desperate men in the smoke at the rear of Campus Trendz – cursing and yelling as they used hand sledges to break through the brick wall all too slowly. She couldn’t watch any longer, she couldn’t listen any longer and there was nothing the girl could do so she walked away.

Pearl Amanda Cornelius, 18, Kelly Ann Welch, 24, Shanna Griffith, 18, Nikita Belgrave, 23, Tiffany Harding, 23 and Kellisha Ovivierre, 24, burned to death because two evil men robbed the store and smashed flaming bottles of petrol. That is one of the causes of their deaths.

Chief Fire Officer Wilfred Marshall, Patrick Todd and then-Attorney General Freundel Stuart talk at the murder scene Saturday morning, September 4, 2010.

The other reason the women died is because the store had no fire exit and no rear door. There were steel bars on all windows: bars designed to keep the victims inside the store in the event of fire. Campus Trendz was a firetrap. The shop was a human oven waiting for an accidentally dropped cigarette, an electrical fire, a cooker too close to some cloth – or two evil men. They stage was set for six deaths long before the morning of September 3, 2010.

For all our claims of being a modern society, we have no law that allows the Fire Chief or his staff to enforce any fire code.

In London or New York City or Vancouver or Sydney or Pretoria, a Fire Inspector has the authority to inspect and shut down businesses and flats that are dangerous. In Barbados our fire authorities have no such authority and power. Shop owners don’t even have to let them in to make an inspection.

Do a search on the internet for news stories related to the Barbados Building Code and you’ll find that our government has been promising to give the Building Code the proper force of law for two decades, but like so many other laws that were promised the politicians never delivered.

The late Prime Minister Thompson said that we are “not an enforcement society” but he didn’t explain the entire truth: we’re not an “enforcement society” because we have no laws to enforce.

Here we are one year after six died in circumstances that were preventable and our fire authorities still have no law, no power and no authority to enforce fire exits in the B’town shops.

The stage is still set for more mass fire deaths. It only requires a spark and no fire exit: and that situation describes dozens of shops I’ve been in since the Campus Trendz slaughter.

I’m not interested in what the Prime Minister will say on the anniversary of the deaths. I’m not interested in what the Attorney General will say his government is “going to do” or “in the process of doing”. They and their government have done nothing since the fire and they continue to do nothing. I lay the deaths at the feet of our Members of Parliament, who for the last 40 years have not thought that an enforceable fire code and building laws were important.

The stage is set and the victims are ready in the shops of Bridgetown for the next disaster. Is your daughter one of those who will die?

Further Reading

September 12, 2010: Two Barbadians arrested in mass murder fire.

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14 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Politics

14 responses to “Is your daughter working in a Bridgetown firetrap?

  1. Bluestime

    May God bless the victims and their families and the men who tried to save them but couldn’t.

  2. Wily Coyote

    Barbados is a country know to have a RULE for everything and enforcement of nothing, One RULE they do not have is a BUILDING CODE which could prevent situations like the one described, assuming that it was ENFORCED.

    Barbados has a large powerful union representation, however it appears to sleep in the same bed with the employers and senior government ministers.

    Food for thought.

  3. yatinkiteasy

    Want to see a real Fire Trap? Go to Liquidation Centre on Bay Street. That is one scary place to visit. It is super full of inventory, stacked in a most disorganized manner,and with very poor lighting.The smell of chemicals from their garden care department fills the air.(Gramoxone anyone?) How can people work there? Where are the health officers? The Fire officers? As usual, we will wait until a major disaster happens before anything is done. Then again, we already had one, with the death of 6 young girls…and nothing has happened.

    There is also a spanking new shopping centre in Worthing, with about 12 individual shops (only three open) They have only a front door entry…no rear(fire ) exit at all. How can the owners and builders of this Brand New Shopping plaza get away with this?

  4. A big hazard is Furniture Ltd by the BTI Car park…the place is a tragedy just waiting to happen

  5. yatinkiteasy

    Same owners as Liquidation center

  6. Charlie

    Ms Ram place in Old Bury St Philip have a underground Games room in a basement. The exit is over 300 feet upstairs via the bowling alley. Well when you have corrupt politicians in Barbados taking hush money aka Bribe money what de hell wunna expect. Look Kiss ma ass ignorant ass bajans.

  7. Charlie

    De Prime Minister of Barbados is a joke and the worst we have ever had.

  8. Parents of the burned dead

    Too true about Ms. Ram place. Fire an nobody gets out alive. The only way for the smoke to escape is up the stairs that people need to exit. Fire upstairs would be just as bad with the kids trapped in the basement.

    Here is the report Mr. Prime Minister. Get your Fire people to go shut down de place except there is no law and no power for them to do that.

    Tell that to the parents of the dead next time, same as C. Trendz.

  9. The man wiv no name!!

    I’ve said it before. Bajans seem brilliant at talking, but hopeless at ACTUALLY DOING ANYTHING! Third world conditions! Guess if I staying in Blighty!

  10. Andrew

    Common in Trinidad as well.

  11. The man wiv no name!!

    Elementary omissions which might’ve saved those poor people’s lives. The guilty virtually deserve to be hung!

  12. Pingback: Two Barbadians arrested in mass murder fire. | Barbados Free Press

  13. 212

    More to the point…does your daughter actually have a job?

  14. Mac

    “two evil men” – Why was only one sentenced with no word to the other guy????

    What happened was horrific, it was turned into a tragedy by a lack of good town planning. Two years on, how many single entrance businesses still operate in Barbados???? What legislation has changed????

    To stop something happening like that again by malice or accident, changes need to be made from the top down to ensure workers & customers/visitors safety.

    To stop it happening again you have to learn from it & do something different.

    RIP to women that died, their memory deserves more than a moments silence one a year. They deserve action from those that can change things for the better.