President of the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs, Errol Maynard. (FP)

Efforts are under way to formalize a relationship between the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC), and regional entities like the Regional Security System and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency to coordinate a disaster response.

This was one of the commitments made during the CAFC conference held in Barbados last week at the Accra Beach Resort and Spa.

CAFC President, Errol Maynard, said open and frank discussions were held between the entities, and they were now on the way to forming a more stable relationship.  They will also seek to establish a memorandum of understanding in the long term.

Mr. Maynard explained that responses for search and rescue or emergency medical service, generally came from the Barbados Fire Service (BFS). 

“In most cases there was never a formal structure for these personnel to respond.  It was just out of the goodness of the fire chief to send persons because there was no formal structure, so that is what we are trying to do ensure that there is a formal structure,” he said.

He added that a formalized structure would also ensure that personnel from across the region responding to an incident were adequately trained to an established minimum standard.

This, he said, would increase the comfort levels among responding officers because they would be assured that their counterparts from the other islands were at the same level.

Meanwhile, Mr. Maynard, who is also the Chief Fire Officer of the BFS, said his department was in the process of establishing community responders.

Noting that the BFS was not seeking to organize district emergency organizations, he said they were instead encouraging persons to come forward and be trained in how to use a chain saw, clear roads and use fire extinguishers until personnel from the emergency services arrive.

“We will also, with the residents’ invitation, give you a safety audit of your home and let you know what you need to do better and what you are not doing well.  It helps us to prevent that fire from happening before it does,” Mr. Maynard pointed out.

He noted that the BFS will advertise when they would be visiting the various districts through the media, so persons would know and sign-up for the training.

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