Fire access concerns at Radio Cayman

A minor emergency at Broadcasting House spurred potentially serious concerns from firefighters about access to the Elgin Avenue building, which houses Radio Cayman. 

In early February, the Cayman Islands Fire Service responded to a smoke detector alarm set off by burnt toast in a kitchen area of the radio building. As planned, the fire truck gained access to the building’s proximity via the parking lot of the neighbouring Government Administration Building. While security guards do not man the actual parking lot booth after hours, a guard does monitor the area via closed-circuit television. In this instance, the guard spotted the fire truck, went outside and opened the traffic barrier to allow the fire truck into the parking lot. 

Once in the parking lot, however, firefighters discovered they could not pull the truck right up to the side of the radio building due to parking spaces obstructing the way. In the meantime, the building’s employees were able to take care of the kitchen situation, which was not an actual fire. 

Chief Fire Officer Dennom Bodden said, in the case of a major fire at the building, firefighters would be able to run hose to the building to douse flames, and, since the radio building is only two storeys, it would not be necessary to pull a ladder truck right up to the building. Still, he said, “This is serious in a way of speaking. All buildings should have direct fire access without any obstacle whatsoever.” 

Mr. Bodden said fire officials immediately aired their concerns with government building officials.  

“It’s something that is supposed to be addressed quickly,” he said. 

Mr. Bodden said there are several possible options that building officials could consider to improve fire access to the radio building, including removing a couple 
of parking spaces. 

Government Facilities Manager Richard Sanfilippo said, in the case of the new Government Administration Building, if the traffic barriers ever fail or the security guards are incapacitated, firefighters have the option of driving the fire truck up an adjacent ramp directly to the front door of the building. Traffic cones are placed on the ramp to deter cars, but Mr. Sanfilippo said officials plan to install a breakaway-type of barrier in the future.  

Additionally, the existing traffic barriers are made of lightweight aluminium and plastic, so the fire truck could easily push through them if necessary. 

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