Fire causes major setback for Florida All-Stars Steel Orchestra

Fire damage in Florida St John

by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • Monday’s fire damaged Florida steelband house and health centre
  • Need for a fire hydrant installed in the area
  • Nearest hydrant 3.5 miles away towards Gouyave

A week into preparation for the upcoming National Panorama competition, disaster struck the headquarters of the Digicel Florida All-Stars Steel Orchestra.

An early morning fire on Monday destroyed a shop situated between the headquarters of the Digicel Florida All-Stars Steel Orchestra and the health centre located in Florida St John, both of which were damaged.

Manager of the Florida All-Stars Matthew Joseph

Manager of the Florida All-Stars Matthew Joseph said they are assessing the damage to the structure of the building. Most importantly he said they must move quickly to assess the current state of their musical equipment since it is believed that the intense heat may have altered the sound quality of over 30 steelpans. “There was quite a bit of damage, both the window and door on the southern side were destroyed; the roof was also affected and needs to be replaced together with all of the light fixtures which melted as a result of the heat. So we are talking about a couple of thousand dollars well to repair the damage. Some of our steel pans were exposed to intense heat, and we know what happens to metal when it is heated, so later this week we have to do our assessment to ensure that the musical notes on the steel pans are in tune.”

Joseph said luckily the majority of their musical equipment was not in the building at the time of the fire but was stored at the Florida Government School since the band is conducting a youth programme at the institution. He said Monday’s fire has significantly set back their preparations for Panorama. “We were really starting our carnival cycle; as you can see we cleaned the place last week and as a matter of fact, we started preparing the juniors last Saturday, so we were on track for Panorama until this fire occurred.”

The fire was said to have started between the hours of 4 and 5 on Monday morning and quickly spread through the building.

Aftermath of Monday’s fire

Joseph said this situation has brought to light the need to install a fire hydrant in the area since the fire department had to travel some 3.5 miles away towards Gouyave to refill with water. “The fire truck, after it emptied all of its water, had to travel and go to St Peters Street in Gouyave to refill to come back up to Florida which is three and a half miles away, so you can see how long it takes for them to arrive here. So we need the authorities to install a fire hydrant here in the community.”

Meanwhile, owner of the shop Derrick Harriman estimates the damage to his shop to be $30,000 to rebuild and restock his shop.

Police are yet to determine the cause of the fire.

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