The Barbados Defence Force (BDF) is a military institution which has been synonymously known for its precision in marching on parade, death-defying rescue attempts in the case of a national disaster and the interdiction of the illegal drugs trade.

At present, the organisation has embarked on a programme to train its officers in firefighting, as part of an ongoing programme to improve their response and ability to fight fires and to assist the Barbados Fire Service (BFS) at the national level.

The two-week training session began on Wednesday, March 16, at the Arch Hall Fire Station and the Barbados Coast Guard’s HMBS Pelican Headquarters.?? The BFS’, training team, led by Acting Station Officer, Errol Maynard, exposed BDF personnel to the rudiments of firefighting.?? The course was coordinated by the BDF’s Chief Petty Officer, Ryan Selby.

In explaining the rationale for the training, the Chief Petty Officer explained that the BDF worked closely with a number of external agencies including the BFS and in the event of a fire, personnel would be equipped with the knowledge and skills to respond if the need arose.

Mr. Selby also gave an insight into the components of the exercise.?? "The training session was very intense.?? We started off by learning how to use personal protection equipment such as a BA set [breathing apparatus] if confronted with a hazardous situation.?? We also did a building search in the event that BDF personnel were called upon to assist the BFS in a rescue attempt or to search for survivors that are trapped in a building.??

The officers were also exposed to fire hose construction, the various types of nozzles and the situations in which they are used, the correct use of hydrants and studying building construction with the view to assisting with inspections…" he added.

While the first batch of officers graduated from the training session on Friday, March 18, the Chief Petty Officer was optimistic that they would educate their peers about fire safety.

"We are hoping that the officers, who have completed their training, would run sessions for other personnel within the units. Hopefully, as time goes by, all officers would be trained to a professional standard in firefighting. We are hoping that we can do a lot more work along with the [Barbados] Fire Service as far as training is concerned," Mr. Selby underlined.

When asked how the training would enhance the BDF’s skills set, the Chief Petty Officer outlined: "It [firefighting training] would assist us in protecting our base and our homes as well.?? So, being a soldier is not only about running around with guns.?? If a fire broke out, we would be equipped with the knowledge to assist the public until the BFS arrives.??

"Additionally, we also have vessels that go out to sea and one never knows when there will be a fire onboard.?? In the event that there is such an occurrence, we would have to render assistance to the vessel at sea as the Barbados Coast Guard. The BDF is always ready and prepared to give a hand whenever we can.??

"The public can rest assured that we would do our best to keep our personnel highly trained in the most professional manner so that they can execute their duties professionally," Mr. Selby surmised.

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