The worrying dispute between Chief Fire Officer Errol Maynard and his officers was still simmering on Monday, following a weekend meeting chaired by Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite on Saturday, which seemed to have fanned the flames.
However, the two sides are expected to return to the negotiating table by next week.
Official sources tell Barbados TODAY that last weekend’s meeting, which took place at the General Post Office building Cheapside, lasted for just about an hour before tempers flared out of control.
Today, Brathwaite could not be reached for comment and both the Fire Chief Errol Maynard and the Chairman of Barbados Fire Service Association Corrie Bridgeman refused to speak publicly on the situation.
However, sources who attended Saturday’s meeting told Barbados TODAY the officers were deeply offended by certain remarks made by Maynard, which have only served to stoke the flames of their escalating dispute.
“So the meeting ended abruptly and there is every likelihood that this will be the last meeting that the association wants to have with him [Maynard] because of those comments,” one officer said, while revealing that the Association had since provided its members with an update on their standoff with the fire department’s management.
Another officer warned that all was certainly not well at the Probyn Street-headquartered essential service.
“Everything isn’t fine and dandy. You have outstanding issues that need to be dealt with and . . . the Association says they are not dealing with the Fire Chief anymore . . . that they are pass that stage and that things will have to be dealt with at another level,” the officer added.
At issue is the Fire Chief’s response to a recent incident in which a fire truck reportedly went missing for seven hours. This apparently led to the revocation – by word of mouth as opposed to in writing – of the supervising officer’s acting appointment.
The Association is also said to be unhappy with the planned re-assignment of its secretary to the Training Unit at Arch Hall, St Thomas.
“The secretary has a lot of work as he is the go-to person when it comes to the Fire Service Association. He is the one that does all of the research. We try to let the chief know that, but . . . the last order that we were given was that he would come back to a shift and the membership still ain’t pleased about it,” one officer explained.
For more than a week now the fire department has been undermanned, amid persistent reports of several officers reporting sick for duty. This led to the temporary closure of the Worthing Station last week, with the other four stations forced to pick up the slack.
In the meantime, fire officers who recently volunteered to work in hurricane ravaged Dominica, are to receive time off to recuperate.
Sources say this was the only matter resolved during Saturday’s meeting after they were initially scheduled to return immediately to their posts.