Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, Girls and Boys, it is my great honour and privilege as your Prime Minister and Minister of National Security to be with you this morning at the Opening Ceremony of the 16th Annual Summer Safety Program.
I am delighted to address you all, particularly the approximately 300 boys and girls from ages five to 12 years old who this week will receive important training covering Fire Safety, Water Safety, Traffic Safety, Disaster Preparedness, and Crime and Violence. These boys and girls are representing 18 schools located across the length and breadth of St. Kitts.
Last week, roughly 100 of their peers from eight schools in Nevis participated in the Annual Summer Safety Program held at the Jessup’s Community Centre. Nevis’ Annual Summer Safety Program celebrates 15 years this year, as it started one year after St. Kitts’ own.
Here in St. Kitts, this week’s Summer Safety Program is being held at three locations, namely the Basseterre Fire Station, Edgar T. Morris Primary School in Tabernacle, and Sandy Point Primary School. This is being done to promote geographic accessibility and a close-knit setting so that the children can get a heightened learning and interactive experience over the span of five days while they are engaged in training from9:00am to 12:00 noon.
This year’s theme is “Protecting the Future of Our Federation Through Fire Safety Awareness.”
The future, of course, is a metaphor for our nation’s children in whom we want to spark awareness of not just fire risks, but also of the importance of employing safety practices such as creating a fire escape plan. Increased awareness will prevent fires and equip children with the survival skills necessary to escape safely from a burning house.
Such proactive and preventative actions require support and reinforcement from parents and guardians.
I therefore encourage adults to initiate safety discussions at the dinner table, in the car, during family meetings, etc. in order to avoid being caught off guard in an emergency. They should know the numbers to call during a fire emergency: 465-2515 or 333.
You should also review with your family the fastest way to get out of your house in case of an emergency. All of you should get out of the house quickly, but safely and meet up at a pre-designated meeting spot outdoors. I leave it to the facilitators to provide the requisite tips to the campers.
Show and tell others in your family and start a safety conversation!
The goal of the Summer Safety Program is to spark discussion, preventative action and behaviour change. We are familiar with the song:
“It only takes a spark to get a fire going.”
It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love once you’ve experienced it; you spread His love to everyone; you want to pass it on.
Indeed, it only takes a spark to ignite a fire that spreads rapidly, and this week’s Summer Safety Program is dedicated to passing on that life-saving message to children and empowering them to save their lives and the lives of others in the event of an emergency.
Fire experts say that once a fire starts, we only have, on average, two minutes to escape a burning house.
Moreover, the U.S. Fire Administration estimates that 300 people are killed and $280 million in property is destroyed each year in the United States as a result of children playing with fire, such as matches, lighters, candles and other ignitable substances.
For us here in St. Kitts and Nevis, fires involving children are very rare and we want to keep it that way. Indeed, no children have been involved in fire-related emergencies here in St. Kitts and Nevis since at least the year 2015.
I take this opportunity to encourage neighbours, friends and members of the general public to reach out as best they can with charity and comfort to victims of fire. Your generosity will be remembered long after they pick up the pieces of their lives.
On behalf of the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis, I give my highest commendation to the St. Kitts and Nevis Fire & Rescue Services for organizing this invaluable Summer Safety Program.
I also extend sincere thanks to the more than 20 instructors in St. Kitts and Nevis. In alphabetical order, they are Mavis Archibald, Kervin Boyles, Nigel Browne, Kile Burke, Lesroy Caines, Davron Clarke, Louise Clarke, Desmond Delashley, Kenneth Dore, Shaneice Duporte, Ian Henry, Clement Hodge, Garfield Hodge, Loretta Hodge, Ericson Isaac, Bertlyn Jefferson, Trevor Matthew, Kenroy Warde, Cornelle Warner, Sanyaka Whyte, and Rommell Williams.
Moreover, I acknowledge and extend gratitude to its two main sponsors: Delta Petroleum St. Kitts Ltd., which has come on board for the third time, and Carib Supply, which services and replenishes fire extinguishers in the Federation.
The Annual Summer Safety Program will familiarize participants with fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, which save lives. The children will also get to know our brave, hardworking and dedicated firefighters and auxiliary personnel who risk their lives so that we can live ours surrounded by our loved ones.
Our St. Kitts and Nevis Fire & Rescue Services have responded to 630 fire calls in 2015, 461 in 2016, 519 in 2017, and 432 fire calls so far in 2018. They respond swiftly and professionally to calls that come in to the four fire stations in the Federation, namely the Basseterre Fire Station, the Charlestown Fire Station, the Sandy Point Fire Station, and the Tabernacle Fire Station.
We therefore thank all of our fire personnel immensely for their unselfish service, and we offer our unwavering support to this Annual Summer Safety Program. It is my wish that their continued efforts in promoting fire safety awareness will help to reduce the number of fire emergencies that occur on a yearly basis in the Federation.
So without further ado, it gives me pleasure and pride to declare the 16th Annual Summer Safety Program officially open.