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Authorities still trying to determine whether fire at Walker's Place of Safety was caused by illegal electricity connection

Deputy Children's Advocate Henderson Downer and Human Rights Advocate Susan Goffe
 
More than a year after a deadly fire at the Walker's Place of Safety in St. Andrew, the Office of the Children's Advocate is still seeking answers regarding whether an illegal electricity connection at the facility caused the blaze.
 
Two children were killed in the fire.
 
It was later revealed in a report that an illegal electricity connection was discovered.
 
The report said the electricity at the property had been disconnected because of non-payment of bills.
 
Deputy Children's Advocate Henderson Downer said two months ago he wrote to several entities, including the Jamaica Fire Brigade, to get answers on whether the illegal connection caused the fire, however, the Brigade could not provide an update and the other entities are yet to respond.  
 
"I presume that they will answer us because of the seriousness of the matter. So that where we've reached so far; we have collected statements and we are anxiously awaiting a response from these institutions," Mr. Downer said. 
 
Implementing recommendations 
 
Human Rights Advocate Susan Goffe, in the meantime, said timelines are needed for the implementation of recommendations in the report on the review of safety arrangements at children's homes and places of safety.
 
The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) on Monday revealed that the review has been completed and recommendations are being implemented.
 
Mrs Goffe said the establishment of timelines will allow the public to hold the authorities accountable. 
 
"When recommendations are made, there needs to be a regular schedule of public reporting, whether via press briefing or postings on websites or releases from the various institutions. It should not be...that we are hearing yet again what will be done in terms of improving safety, improving building inspections, etc. It should be that we are hearing what was done to make those improvements and what further must be done," she asserted. 
 
The report, which is focused on risk reduction, emergency response and property security, has been submitted to the Youth Ministry.
 
The review was requested by Prime Minister Andrew Holness following last year's fire at the Walker's Place of Safety.
                                                                                  
Meanwhile, Mrs. Goffe said details are needed on the probe into the deaths of the two female wards during the fire at the Walkers' Place of Safety.
 
"One thing that I ask for example is, why is it that two children died in the fire at Walker's Place of Safety when all the others were rescued. We do not have a clear public understanding of that. We don't know if it was unavoidable or whether there were measures that could have saved those two children as well," she suggested, even as she called for systematic measures to be in place to protect the lives of children. 
 
 


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