As the entire country of Guyana still struggles to cope with the reality of the Mahdia Secondary School Girls’ Dorm fire which claimed the lives of 19 students and left several severely injured, persons have been weighing in on what can be done better in the future to prevent such tragedies from ever happening again.
The conditions under which the young victims of the recent tragedy lived are replicated in dorms across the country of Guyana, especially in interior regions where students leave their hometown and travel to a central location in order to receive a secondary education. In light of the recent tragedy, the elements of the infrastructure of those dorms have been coming under criticism.
It is not clear at this time what caused the deadly fire. There are rumors that it started after a student set a mattress on fire. However, the Guyana Fire Service is still to release an official report on the cause of the fire. While we cannot undo the past, the question posed before us now is, “what can we do to prevent the likes of such a tragedy from ever recurring in the future?”
No Fire Extinguishers
Persons have reported to this publication that there are no fire extinguishers in the dorm where the fire took place, and that there are no fire extinguishers in dorms across the country in general. Further, we were told that students living in dorms are not trained in using a fire extinguisher since there is none to use.
No Emergency Exits
We often tell ourselves that “something like that would never happen,” and simply throw caution to the wind. While it is true that the chances of a fire at any location is relatively small, it’s that one-in-a-thousand chance that we need to guard against, because, when it does hit, it really hurts. This publication was made to understand that there are no emergency exits built into the dorms at Mahdia or at other locations across Guyana.
Heavy grills on the windows of dorms are meant to protect children from outside intruders, but in this case, it was used as a weapon against them. The heavy grills on the windows might have prevented students from escaping when the fire started to engulf the building. Right-thinking persons are calling for the dismantling of such grills and the implementation of more escape-friendly security measures.