Campbell died on Friday last after suffering 80 percent burns about his body while battling a raging bush fire off Lady Chancellor Road, St Ann’s.
Two other forest officers Kernarie Carrington and Jamal Bain also suffered burns and are currently warded at the Port-of- Spain General Hospital.
Yesterday, Gopual expressed condolences to Campbell’s family but noted that the time has come for forest rangers to be provided with the flame resistant clothing to assist them when they are battling bush fires.
He said that between last year and yesterday, over 3,000 flame resistant kits have been purchased by the Fire Service for officers and he believes a version of those kits could be purchased for forest rangers.
“We continue to liaise with our Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Agriculture so we could provide to them the recommendation for protective clothing, which will not be what fire fighters use, but it would be a measure of inflammability to offer them protection,” he said.
Gopaul emphasised that there needs to be some changes to ensure the safety of those forest rangers and even fire guardians when they are called out to extinguish bush fires.
“We have to now increase the communication between the forest rangers and ourselves. We need to have an emergency line where we can be consulted and have an emergency response when they require it,” he said.
Additionally, Gopaul noted, “They (forest rangers) don’t have the protective clothing or the training so we could work together to assist them when they have to respond to these type of calls.
They can be the initial response and we can back them up.” Gopaul revealed that fire officers deal with 100 bush fires every day which, he said, were all started by people. He warned that because of the bush fires there could be mass flooding when the wet season starts.
Meanwhile, Barataria / San Juan MP Dr Fuad Khan yesterday urged the authorities to find those responsible for starting the fire which eventually led to Campbell’s death.
In a statement issued yesterday, Khan noted that the authorities suspected that the fire off Lady Chancellor Road on Friday was the result of someone burning garbage and it was imperative that the person who ignited it be arrested and charged for the crime.
“Similar to the recent fire at the Port of Port-of-Spain, where several containers and vehicles were destroyed, the fire authorities need to investigate this matter with the same enthusiasm and vigor, to find those responsible with causing the death of this brave individual. Because unless the perpetrators are faced with the consequences and punishment for their actions, they will continue to light these fires indiscriminately, until our entire nation is consumed by the flames,” he said.
Khan proposed that the fines for persons using fires as a means to clear land for either agricultural purposes or squatting should be increased.
“As a further punishment for the destruction of our hills and mountain sides, such as on Lady Chancellor Hill and Lady Young Road, I am also proposing that fines be increased, and additionally, the responsible individuals be removed from the premises as a result for their wanton acts of carnage.
Because not only do these fires cause damage to the land which they are inhabiting, but it also severely hampers the ability for water retention thereby resulting in the flooding of downtown Port-of-Spain and other low-lying areas during the annual rainy season,” he said.