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May 11, 2017

Fire Service Grades Performance in CEMO Simulation

We have covered many fires over the course of the last few weeks, which have caused untold damage to many families in Belize City and elsewhere. This morning there was another on the Philip Goldson Highway where one man was trapped in the flames and had to be rescued by the National Fire Service. Fortunately for him, it was a simulation exercise – the kind turned to more often by emergency services to help train their men and women to react in conditions similar to what they will face for real. It was part of the two-day CEMO Symposium in Belize City. Aaron Humes was there and filed the following report.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

Sirens tearing through the overcast morning sky portent doom for a family structure here on the Philip Goldson Highway right next door to the Belize Biltmore Plaza. But while one person is trapped in the flames, he was successfully saved. The simulation exercise is part of the two-day CEMO Symposium, which this year focuses on fire safety.


Ted Smith

Ted Smith, Fire Chief, National Fire Service

“As you observed on the ground there were two structures – there was one on fire; and one was threatened by the existing fire; there was also someone reported trapped within that structure. We received that call, deployed to the area; the commanding officer did what we discussed, a brief “size-up” – and then deployed his people; the size-up was to determine what needed to get done. He then deployed his people in what we call a three-prong attack and a rescue, immediately effected a rescue and deployed the men to deal with what we call a three-prong attack. A three-prong has to do with, in addition to the rescue, it has to do with attacking the seat of the fire to protect the rescuer, while at the same time, put measures in place to prevent the fire from spreading – so attacking the avenue of fire spread, as well as to protect the exposure.”


The firefighters had a steady supply of water from a nearby hydrant and were able to effect rescue almost immediately, in keeping with their response when that is an issue of consideration. But each fire is different, so how did the chief think his men had done?


Ted Smith

“The men handled it well. Every fire situation, yes, is different and poses different challenges. Those challenges must be overcome – continuous assessment on the fire ground must be done to make the necessary adjustment as fire is a dynamic thing; it continues to move and change directions and you must be able to observe and adapt to the situation as the fire moves.”


While this simulation had a largely happy ending, many fires do not. While the Fire Service encourages fire victims to sound the alarm and if able to, put the fire out themselves, do not expect prompt service if you wait too long to call. Smith told us that victims must be sure to have these facts handy when calling in a fire emergency.


Ted Smith

“I would not recommend you try to extinguish the fire first, and then after you fail, then you call the Fire Department; the Fire Department may not be the next door neighbour, so it will take us a little time to arrive. Therefore, the sooner we are aware of a situation, the quicker to arrive. The dispatcher should call 90 or 911, these are the emergency designated numbers of the country. The dispatcher should call those numbers, and the people at that end shall inform the other emergency services that [are] needed to respond.”


Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.


Be sure to inform of exact address, other circumstances and a contact for the home owner. The Symposium concluded this evening.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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