This week, the Fire Service observed 41 years of existence as a separate entity. Some of you may not be aware or remember that before 1974 the Fire Service was a department of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force. Police Officers had to double up as Fire Officers.
After the major fires of 1945 and 1948, 1951, 1959 and 1960 in Castries, not forgetting the fire of 1955 in Soufriere, a Commission of Inquiry recommended that the Firefighting duties be removed from the Police and that a new entity be established and called the Fire Brigade.
At that time the main mandate of the Fire Service was to combat fires in St. Lucia. However, over time that mandate has been widened by intent if not by statute. The ambulance service was added sometime around 1979 and now the Fire Service responds to all emergency situations where life or property is at risk.
Through the years, several improvements have been made. There have been improvements in equipment, training, and accommodation. While there is still much to be done to bring the service in line with what is required for a small developing country, we are confident that we can successfully advocate for those. Undoubtedly, these improvements will have to be done incrementally.
The area of staffing levels is of critical import in order to allow for efficiency in performance. In its current state, personnel are multi-tasking and in that environment, some important duties may be neglected as others receive prominence.
Over the past year, the Department was rocked by industrial unrest and staff agitation. However, within the last few months there has been substantial dialogue between the members representatives and the management of the Fire
Service aimed at addressing outstanding issues. One of the contentious areas was promotions. I can now report that there has been one batch of promotions made by the Public Service Commission. The promotions take effect from SEPTEMBER 1ST 2015.
The newly promoted persons are:
From Sub. Officer to Station Officer
From Leading Fireman to Sub. Officer
From Fireman to Leading Fireman
Junius St. Hill
During the observance of this anniversary, we are endeavoring to promote camaraderie and esprit du corps among our Fire Officers. On Wednesday, 16th September, we held a cricket match between the Management and the Fire Service Association. The activity was well attended and allowed for socializing by the officers outside the work environment. There will be a domino tournament on Friday evening at the Chawama’s Place at Marisule from 7:00pm.
During the month of October 2015, we will be observing Fire Prevention Week and as such there will be outreaches to the public in select communities. More information will be provided later.
I therefore congratulate all Fire Officers on the achievement of the milestone and thank the Ministry of Home Affairs and National Security and the general public for their support thus far. We look forward to redoubling our efforts at providing quality assistance for the rest of the year and beyond.
God bless us all!