A formal agreement is now in place for the provision of search and rescue services by fire departments throughout the region.
Barbados’ Chief Fire Officer and President of the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC), Errol Maynard, and outgoing Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson, today signed a virtual memorandum of understanding (MOU) to formalize the relationship, allowing for the provision of such services throughout the region.
“Although the core of this document speaks to and focuses on our ability to provide search and rescue services, it also includes provisions for assistance in other emergency situations and training. This is important because as a region we are susceptible not only to the impact of hurricanes, but also other hazards such as earthquakes, tidal activities and collapse structures,” Mr. Maynard said.
He added that today’s signing of the MOU demonstrated a clear vision of where CFAC wanted to go and its commitment to the Fire and Rescue Industry within the region in getting there.
The Fire Chief explained that CAFC was established in 2001 in Trinidad and Tobago to create a mechanism to allow fire and rescue practitioners to collectively develop strategies and combine resources to minimize loss of life, personal injuries, damage to property and the environment by promoting the best practices in firefighting, rescue, fire protection and prevention.
Mr. Maynard said that though the Caribbean was a small region with small vulnerable island states, collectively it has proven to be a resilient territory.
“As a region, we must therefore shore up our capacity to be equipped to respond to the next disaster or emergency, which may impact our shores.
“We must work together, train together, exercise together and pool our resources as we continue to build regional capacity and resilience,” Mr. Maynard stated.
In response, Mr. Jackson said he was pleased to reach a point where the partnership between CDEMA and CAFC could be formalized, as it would serve to strengthen the regional response mechanism.
That, he said, would require more engagement, cooperation and the integration of fire services across the Caribbean, beyond just the CARICOM Disaster Relief Unit.
“The area of search and rescue is also a very important component where we need to galvanize the capacities and capabilities of our fire services, and to ensure that that is plugged in quite appropriately to any regional architecture that is responding to the needs of member states,” the Executive Director pointed out.
During the virtual meeting, Mr. Jackson was lauded for his work throughout the Caribbean over the past seven years at the helm of CDEMA, as he prepares to take up a new post in Geneva.