The Barbados Fire Service (BFS) will soon have its own Fire Service Training and Development Academy and its first Auxiliary Fire Officers Unit (AFOU).

These are among projects slated to come on stream which were highlighted by Acting Chief Fire Officer, Errol Maynard, as he addressed the installation ceremony for retired firefighters into the new Barbados Association of Retired Fire Officers on Saturday.

???It is because of the contribution that you made that positioned us, the Barbados Fire Service, as one of the most advanced and professional fire and rescue services in the region,??? he told those present.

Mr. Maynard said that the Arch Hall Station was already established as a ???dynamic training and development unit???, and would soon be upgraded into the academy to cater to local and regional fire and rescue services and the general public.

He noted that the Unit was already computerised and offered online courses to local and regional participants, with members of the first cohort graduating last December from Barbados, Dominica and St. Lucia.

Meanwhile, Mr. Maynard explained that the AFOU would give the Department more access to personnel to better fulfill its mandate and pursue its vision. “Since November 2006, we would have had seven Auxiliary Fire Officers mingled among our regular officers, but this time around they would be functioning as an auxiliary unit,??? Mr. Maynard further disclosed.

A change in the present Fire Prevention and Community Relations Unit to the Fire Prevention and Code Enforcement Unit is also on the cards for the BFS in the near future. The move would see the new unit taking on the responsibility for code enforcement and the issuance of Fire Safety compliance certificates.

The Acting Fire Chief has called on retired fire officers to join in efforts to reduce the number of fires which rose from 2, 159 in 2013 to 2, 650 last year, with 100 house fires being recorded in 2014 compared with 80 the previous year.

Mr. Maynard charged the officers and members of the newly formed BARFO to join those in the Service in the assault against unwanted fires, in spreading messages of fire prevention and safety education and in visiting various communities to make Barbados safer.

???We, the current members, recognise the essential contribution that you made in shaping the department into what it is today. We encourage you to continue and therefore, you are invited to take some time??? and visit our stations on a regular basis and fertilise our young and receptive minds with some of the reservoir of knowledge stored within you,??? he urged.

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