|Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite (FP)|
Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, has given the assurance that Government will start work on the Training and Development Unit at the?? Arch Hall Fire Station in St. Thomas, during the next financial year.
This was to ensure that firefighters received the best training possible, he told local fire officers, as well as fire chiefs from around the region during the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) 2012 Leadership Symposium, today, at Solidarity House.
The Minister acknowledged that small islands such as Barbados were susceptible to natural disasters and fire fighters were usually among the first responders on the scene. To this end, Mr. Brathwaite emphasised the need for officers to receive the necessary training.
"Let me use this opportunity to remind you that we [in the Ministry] recognise the importance of training, we do intend … to start to work on [the Training and Development Unit at] Arch Hall, so that you can bring your training to the level that it should be at… It is my understanding that part of [CAFC’s] training this week will be to look at the whole issue of how you are best able to respond as first responders. You as firefighters bare significant responsibility because you are usually the first responders. If you do not get it right at the initial response you might not only risk your own life but the lives of the very people that you are going to assist.
"Therefore, it is your responsibility to ensure you are given the requisite training on a continuous basis. You have a responsibility to ensure that you sharpen your skills [regularly]. I want to recognise what [CAFC] is doing to ensure that size is not an issue, so that whether or not you are from Montserrat, or from St. Croix or Trinidad and
Tobago, your responsibility as an organisation is to ensure that you are best able to respond," Mr. Brathwaite told members of the association.
He also assured local fire officers that his Ministry was addressing the issue of security of tenure, adding that it was working assiduously to resolve the matter.
President of the CAFC, Fire Chief Gregory Richards from St. Croix, said the association, which was formed in 2001, would be leading the charge to improve the standards for admission into the fire service within the Caribbean. He said a high school diploma was no longer sufficient to enter the service.
Mr. Richards added that in May 2011, 26 firefighters from six countries graduated from training offered by the CAFC. He said the symposium would provide a forum for constructive discussion, exchange of information and shared experiences among chief fire officers as well as junior officers. In addition, participants would be exposed to expert professional advice, leadership research and joint disaster response planning. The symposium is expected to pave the way for the future development of fire and rescue services in the region.