Injured firemen on extended leave

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

President of the Fire Service Association (2nd Division) Keone Guy. –

Two firemen injured while responding to a fire on Observatory Street, Port of Spain on January 18, are now on extended injury leave.

The officers were battling a blaze at around 1.30 am when the metal arm supporting the cage they were in collapsed.

The cage fell approximately 30 feet and swung back and forth. The officers were injured when they were thrown about in the basket and were taken to hospital.

One officer fractured his leg while the other suffered chest injuries.

“The officer that had the surgery due to his fracture, we expect him to be out for an extended period. The one with the chest injury, I don’t want to say it was not serious but it was not life threatening,” said Fire Services Association president Keone Guy.

He said the officers are still complaining of pain about their bodies.

“The mechanism of that injury is one that could relate closely to a car accident. Their bodies came into contact with the boom as well as the cage so they’re in a lot of pain. Both of them are still in a lot of pain and are managing that with the use of some pain medication.”

Guy commended the leaders of the TT Fire Service (TTFS) for their prompt reaction after the incident.

“The chief officer must be commended for ensuring that the officers were given access to the employee assistance programme. The officers have been informed of the facility where they’ll be allowed to speak to the counsellors there. They have been advised by us, as well, of the various modes in which they can access treatment if they should find themselves under any type of psychological impact.”

Guy said the other vehicles similar to the one involved in the incident have been pulled from service. This is until the investigation into the incident is complete to avoid putting officers at risk.

“Given the injuries to the officers in the incident a week ago, we don’t think it is unreasonable to have the remaining vehicles from that similar fleet pulled from service and also tested and certified before being replaced into use.

“In fact, the chief officer almost immediately agreed with our request. Simultaneous to our request being sent, we had a phone conversation where he indicated that he had given instructions to the assistant chiefs to ensure that those vehicles were pulled from service.”

Asked how this could affect the TTFS’ fire-fighting capabilities, Guy said he believed it is important to also consider the safety of fire officers.

“There is a psychological impact on the remaining fire officers. It is difficult for any other operator or any other fire officer to enter into that cage with the same level of confidence that they did in the past.”

“We had confidence that something like this will not happen but because it has happened, taking actions like calling for the vehicle to be taken out of service is not unreasonable. In fact, it is international best practise when these type of incidents occur.”