Businessman seeks more info on ladders bought for Fire Service

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: Inshan Ishmael –

VALSAYN businessman Inshan Ishmael wants more details on the purchase of 20 double-extended wooden ladders for the Fire Service.

On Monday, his attorney Richard Jaggasar sent a freedom of information request to the divisional fire officer asking for documentation on the purchase of the ladders.

Ishmael wants to know if the purchase was done through a sole selection process or was open to vendors through tendering.

He also wants a list of all the entities that bid for the purchase of the ladders, and board minutes relating to the process, as well as the bids submitted by the entities.

His request also seeks documentation from the National Security Ministry to the Chief Fire Officer on the purchase.

In September, in response to an earlier request, the Fire Service said the 20 double-extended wooden ladders had been bought for $999,000. They were supplied by Amalgamated Security Services in February 2020, another response said.

Monday’s request said on October 31, the Fire Service communication department issued a press release which said, “Given the process with the procurement and acquisition of these ladders in the FireService would have commenced in 2020 with the then-administration.

“Subsequently, they were delivered in 2022.”

Jaggasar said while Ishmael’s requests were pending, Chief Fire Officer Arnold Bristow was reported in the media on the procurement process, defending the purchase.

“It is concerning that these preliminary declarations were made without supporting evidence of facts.

“ Upon a cursory glance at the statements, it appears that the current Chief Fire Officer is distancing himself from the purchase for some reason.

“It is unclear whether he is simultaneously saying that proper procurement practices were used in the purchase or ought to have been used.

“My client is of the opinion that one ought not to speak about the use of public funds without facts and without proper details.”

The attorney also quoted National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds, who allegedly said the purchase would have been dealt with by the permanent secretary of the ministry, since the cost was “within the limit for purchase by the permanent secretary under our financial regulations. It had absolutely nothing to do with any minister of government per se.”

Jaggasar said, “It appears to be a common thread among these officials that the procurement process and the use of public funds was a concern.

“As a result, my client has prepared another request which focuses on the circumstances surrounding the purchases of these ladders.”