The acquisition of 20 wooden ladders by the T&T Fire Service (TTFS) for just under $1 million is strongly being defended by Chief Fire Officer, Arnold Bristow.
The procurement of ladders became a hot topic after social activist and businessman Inshan Ishmael made a request through the Freedom of Information Act for data on firefighting equipment purchased for fire stations and firefighter personnel between January 2015 to April 2023.
It was revealed, among other things, that the 20 wooden ladders had been purchased for $999,000.
Bristow said the standard in Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service ladders has always been integral and wooden ladders have always been a key element in our organization’s apparatus.
According to Bristow: “The standard fire truck appliance would normally be required to carry three ladders, a first floor ladder, a 13.5 meter extension ladder, as well as a 10.5 meter extension ladder. It has always been the choice of the Fire Service to have wood ladders because wood does not conduct electricity.”
Speaking in a GML interview, he said because electrical transmission lines across the country are still located above ground, fire officers are able to make a tactical decision in terms of which ladder to use in a particular situation.
During the recent sitting of Parliament’s Standing Finance Committee when the National Security Ministry’s financial records were being examined, Naparima MP Rodney Charles asked about the procurement of the ladders and questioned the decision-making process.
However, Bristow said the ladders are being used and the only setback is the modification of trucks to accommodate them.