The construction of a new fire station in the Pine, St. Michael, opposite the Ann Hill School, is on the cards for the Barbados Fire Service (BFS), as government moves to address a number of challenges facing that organization.
This was disclosed by Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, following a tour of the Arch Hall, St. John and Worthing Fire Stations earlier this week.
“Cabinet recently agreed that a new fire station should be built in the Pine area, where the Ministry of Transport and Works have their property opposite the Ann Hill School,” he said, noting that there were only five fire stations to cover the entire island.
Mr. Hinkson stated that his ministry was presently working to get a team of professionals together to manage the project, and would soon invite expressions of interest for architects, quantity surveyors, contractors and other personnel to work on the construction.
He said visits were also conducted at the Airport Fire Station and the Bridgetown Fire Station three months ago, with remedial work being carried out on the latter, which was constructed in 1950.
“The main station that had infrastructural issues was Probyn Street. We went there in February this year and we asked the Project Office in the Ministry to do some repair and remedial work, which is now almost completed,” he said, adding that the fire officers appeared to be pleased with the improvements.
Meanwhile, he disclosed that the ministry was seeking to have the issue of appointments within the BFS addressed.
“My understanding is that out of the 187 fire officers in Barbados, only three are appointed. That is the chief, the deputy and a divisional officer and that is unacceptable. It has an effect, even if in a minor way, on the morale of the officers,” Mr. Hinkson lamented.
However, during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service he said it was a problem, which existed throughout the civil service.
“There are too many people in acting appointments, and the situation has been compounded by the Qualification Order, which came into effect about three to four years ago,” he said.
Mr. Hinkson said the Ministry of Home Affairs was in the process of finalizing a brief for the Ministry of the Public Service to inform their discussions, as it relates to its departments, especially the BFS, the Barbados Prison Service and the Immigration Department.
The minister further noted that his ministry was in constant dialogue with the Fire Service Association because it was an integral part of the department.
“The conditions under which fire officers work has to be, and is at the core of the issues and the concerns of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the wider government. We are addressing them and have agreed that we will all work together in the interest of the Fire Service which is a significant department in government,” he assured.