The Barbados Fire Service is set to become a fire and rescue service in an upgrade of its half-century-old legislation and the integration of technology into firefighting, Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson declared today.
Reform and revision of the Barbados Fire Service Act of 1961 is top of the Government’s agenda, Hinkson announced before the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs’ (CAFC) conference as it opened at the Accra Beach Resort & Spa.
The minister said: “We at the level in my ministry, with input from the management of the fire service and the association, are actively preparing a new legislative platform for the delivery of fire service in order to modernize and position our service in line with current practices in the profession.”
He hinted that under a new law, the fire service would become a comprehensive fire management and rescue operation. This, he said, would allow it to ultimately be more responsive to the public’s demands in the 21st Century.
The fire service’s appointments would fall under a Protective Services Commission, which will allow for a more effective regime for the personal advancement and promotion of fire officers, he declared.
The Home Affairs Minister stressed that there was still a need to re-engineer the workflow processes of the fire service through the computerisation of its operations.
He added that his ministry recognized the importance of embracing technology, and was “looking forward to assistance from the Ministry of Innovation and Smart Technology in that regard”.
During his address, Hinkson left words of advice with the fire chiefs: “You must endeavour to better yourselves as leaders because you cannot take people where you have never been; and you cannot impart that which you do not know.”
He also encouraged them to provide continuous training and development programmes for staff, recognizing that they were critical to the sustainability and growth of their departments.
Hinkson further advised the fire chiefs’ association to seek partnerships and strategic alliances at a higher level, and become a voice on natural and man-made disasters similar to that of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.
“You may also consider having your association forge partnerships through the Caribbean Association of Fire Fighters to establish the Caribbean Rescue Unit, comprising officers and medical personnel who will be first on the ground to execute any rescue operations and increase chances of survival and mitigate losses for those who have suffered losses in the Caribbean,” the minister said.
The opening ceremony also featured the passing of the baton to Barbados’ Fire Chief Errol Maynard, who will now head CAFC for the next four years.
The one-week conference, in which 15 Caribbean countries are participating, opened with a flag ceremony, and featured a cultural presentation from gospel artiste John Yarde.
It continues tomorrow with a series of meetings and presentations, including one with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and the Pan-American Health Organisation. There is also to be a series of training sessions being conducted for participants in emergency management services, and an exhibition.