Point Fortin fire station still using borrowed equipment

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The new Point Fortin Fire Station at Techier Main Road. – Photo by Narissa Fraser

THE Point Fortin fire station continues to use borrowed equipment.

The president of the Fire Service Association (FSA), Keone Guy, said equipment was pulled from different stations in the southern division for the ceremonial opening of the new station on April 23.

In an interview with Newsday on May 6, Guy said, “A tender was pulled from Mon Repos fire station for the opening.”

Speaking in the Senate on April 23, Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hindssaid the opening was postponed after the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) encountered challenges in preparing for the ceremony.

Newsday spoke with Udecott corporate communications officer Roxanne Stapleton-Whyms on May 6. She said, “We do not have a new date for the ceremonial opening. Officers have moved into the new facility and it is operational.”

When contacted, chief fire officer Arnold Bristo said the borrowed equipment had already broken down, but was being serviced and would be up and running soon.

Guy told Newsday that fire equipment allocated to Heritage Petroleum Company Ltd was being used at the station.

“The Heritage appliance and ambulance are being used for all responses, as there aren’t any for the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service (TTFS).”

He said when Petrotrin closed down and officers were retrenched, stations in the area were given equipment to protect the industrial estate.

The lack of equipment and other essential equipment has been an ongoing issue.

Guy said Hinds’ repeated assertions that the TTFS was “fully equipped” could be refuted by the Government’s failure to supply the breathing apparatus it had repeatedly promised.

On April 28, the ministry issued a public notice inviting tenders to supply 225 self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) sets used by firefighters for oxygen and to protect against dangerous gases.

At the time, Guy said he was “perplexed and angered” by the notice.

He said, “Requests for these units were made going back to mid-2021.

On April 3, the FSA held a press conference pleading with the ministry to supply the apparatus as promised in Hinds’ contribution to the 2024 budget debate in October.

Guy complained that there were only ten sets of apparatus for a force of 2,000 fire officers at 24 stations.

He said the shortage of equipment had resulted in increased occurrence of illness and injury to officers and greater public risk.

“Equipment shortages, lack of fire tenders and Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) violations have plagued the service for years, and have been raised by successive FSA presidents.”

On April 5, Opposition MP for Oropouche East Dr Roodal Moonilal called on Hinds to “equip the fire services now.”

He said the Fire Service had never been more ill-equipped.