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Nov 23, 2016

Fire Service Welcomes 30 New Firefighters

Over the last two months we have seen an increase in fires in the City. There have been deaths, injuries and significant loss of property and usually the first responders on the scene would be our firefighters. Now, it’s no secret that the National Fire Service has very old trucks and not the best equipment to meet our fire response and emergency needs. And then there is the manpower issue.  Well, NEMO says they are not where they want to be but they are not where they used to be. Back in May, they held the first graduation ceremony for 2016 and introduced twenty-four new firefighters and today they held a similar ceremony and officially welcomed thirty new firefighters. News Five’s Andrea Polanco was there and told us how that went.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Thirty new fire fighters were welcomed to the National Fire Service this morning. After fifteen weeks of intense training from admin duties to fire and accident response, the recruits were recognized in the second passing out ceremony for this year. It is a day to mark the start of their career as firefighters who will be the first responders for fires and other emergencies across Belize.

 

Ted Smith

Ted Smith, Fire Chief

“Our goal is to ensure that trainee acquire the necessary level of tactical operational skills, knowledge and discipline required to efficiently and effectively deployed in emergency operations; to increase the human resource capacity which will positively impact theatre operation outcome, thus boost confidence by the public and moral within the service. Some of the subjects these firefighters had to undergo during those last fifteen weeks are: fire service administration, vehicle maintenance, hose and hose construction, fire behavior, personal protective clothing and equipment, fire streams, fire control, foam and foam making equipment, search and rescue, ventilation, ladders, portable fire extinguishers,  size up and road traffic accidents, just to mention a few. These subjects were designed and developed to provide firefighters with the necessary skills required to meet the changing demands thereby ensuring successful theatre operation outcomes and incidents all across the country of Belize.”

 

The new firefighters showed off their skills in a fire drill. The demonstration saw them set up a ladder, put out a fire and complete a rescue and other basic fire skills. For new fire officers like Patrick Parks, today he achieves his dream after a fire destroyed a relative’s home. But gettingto where he is today wasn’t easy.

 

Patrick Parks

Patrick Parks, Top firefighter Recruit No. 2

“This has been a dream of mine to be a part of this department that serves and protects our community for a long time. When I was fifteen years old I became a volunteer firefighter in Independence Village. I became a volunteer firefighter because my aunt’s house burnt down in Independence Village. That particular moment I decided that I wanted to serve my community. I was inspired by Mister Chadwick Foreman, the firefighter, who responded that day to that fire. We have made it through the pains, the sweat and the tears. May I remind you guys about PT. It was one of those days that no one really liked and no one really wanted to line up at 8 in the morning under the hot sun running around the circle of death- the Marion Jones stadium – stopping almost every mile to do push up, star jumps, leg raise and sit ups. My legs are starting to hurt thinking about it. Don’t get me started on Mister Randy – the mannequin- that we pulled and dragged and saved countless times from fires and collapsed buildings and whatnot.”

 

Minister of NEMO Edmond Castro was the keynote speaker at today’s passing out ceremony. He reflected on how far along the National Fire Service has come since its inception in 1846. He noted that the new firefighters are a boost to the National Fire Service and come at a critical time – when there has been a surge of fires in Belize.

 

Edmond Castro

Edmond Castro, Minister of NEMO

“The National Fire Service has been in existence since 1846. That dah very well years, mi ma would ah seh. 1846. The last time I checked we went to the Battle of Saint George’s Caye in 1796. So, the Fire Service was known as the Fire Brigade back in 1846. Now the Department has grown from strength to strength as a well-established and disciplined organization. In 2016, it is recognized as an essential part that provides a vital service to Belize. The Department now boasts to have one hundred and sixty firefighters and operational personnel of men and women employed as administrators, secretaries, clerks and supporting staff. However, in addition to that, we have approximately a one hundred and fifty volunteer firefighters. To add to this, we will have two additional program which will be the Cadet Officer course and the leadingfire-fighters course to add to the one hundred and sixty firefighters and to assist also with the one hundred and fifty volunteer fighters.  In Belize, we are faced by fires so many times. Nuh wah month go by that yuh nuh hear wah house on fire. So, at this time we are trying our utmost best to make sure that we equip the length and breadth of country with young, strong men and women to assist with fire fighting in our country.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

 

Minister Castro told us today that they are looking into investing in new and bigger water bowsers equipped with hose and water pumps for the National Fire Service. He says sometimes the lack of availability of water sometimes impede the effectiveness of the fire service. 

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