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