Saturday, January 20, 2018

Chief Fire Officer: Safety our priority

Griffith slams protective services at Oval...

 CHIEF FIRE Officer Nayer Rampersad yesterday agreed with statements made by National Security Minister Gary Griffith when he slammed the protective services after several cricket patrons were turned away at the Queen’s Park Oval on Saturday.

On Sunday Griffith called for a cohesive approach to managing large scale events, after witnessing what he said was an angry crowd of up to 1,500 ticket-holders being refused entry into the Queen’s Park Oval for last Saturday’s Nagico Super50 final cricket match.

Griffith said he was forced to personally take control of the situation and speak one-on-one with a number of heads of security at the venue, until his recommendation to allow the patrons on to The Greens, in the area formerly known as the Dos Santos stand, was taken up.

He added that, “What I realised was that there was no immediate communication between the relevant agencies. We seem always to be dropping the ball when it comes to event management and what I would want to see in the future is the implementation of standard operation procedures and a venue centre.”

Griffith said by the time he started to take charge of the situation, frustrated patrons, confused as to why they were being refused entry with their legitimate tickets, had begun to bang on the gates.

CFO Rampersad explained that the role of fire officers in any large scale event is ensure the thousands of patrons who attended the cricket were not in any danger should an emergency occur.

“I am in agreement with the Minister for a need for proper coordination,” but he explained that with regards to the stands at the oval his officers would conduct what is called a density factor which would determine the number of patrons these stands could hold so fire officers present would advise the promoter that they try not to exceed the crowd capacity at that particular stand.

He also said his officers would also deal with issues of patrons blocking the passageways of the venues and added in the event of a disastrous issue at a venue such as the Oval all of the protective agencies present—namely police and fire officers—would have little choice but to work together to help manage relief efforts and the evacuation of the premises if need be.

He said however that coordination would have allowed his officers to place several of the affected ticket-holders who were left outside the gates into other areas of the Oval safely as he maintained that safety was always their priority during large scale events.

The Express telephoned the Ag Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams for a comment on the issue but he said he did not regard what was stated in the newspaper by Griffith as what the minister would have actually said that day, and therefore he could make no comment on the Minister’s statements which came from a newspaper article. 

The Express also tried to contact the Police Social and Welfare Association president, Insp Anand Ramesar, but there was no reply.