The near 60-year-old legislation that established the Barbados Fire Service (BFS) needs a makeover, according to Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson.
However, while stating that a number of changes were proposed three years ago that would improve the BFS, Hinkson today gave no indication of plans by the Barbados Labour Party administration to enact those changes, when he addressed recruits at the 38th passing out parade and award ceremony of the Barbados Fire Academy.
“The legalization which governs and establishes the fire service has existed without any substantial reform or overhaul since 1961. I am aware that the management of the service over the last three years has proposed legislative amendments which, if enacted and proclaimed, would empower it to evolve into a comprehensive fire management and rescue operations,” he told the gathering at the fire station at Arch Hall, St Thomas.
The minister also addressed the contentious issue of promotions, telling the recruits he was aware that it was a concern. Yet, he again made no commitments to taking the next step.
“I am also briefed that the lack of definite and specific rules relating to the promotions of fire officers has been a legitimate cause of concern within the service. There is a view that the rules and regulations of the Public Service Act under which the fire department is now subject, do not adequately cater to the specific needs and unique nature of this service,” Hinkson said.
At the reopening of the Arch Hall Fire Station and the launch of the academy in May last year, then Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite also dealt with the issue of promotions, stating at the time there was “an issue in terms of promotions, that case has been settled and that should clear the way for us to have promotions so we can actually also bring some of these young auxiliary officers into the service”.
“So where there are issues, I as Minister in the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Fire Chief and your seniors are willing to work with you to see how we can address them. We might not always get them addressed as quickly as you would like, but we are all part of the same team,” Brathwaite said at the time.