The Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds, has given the assurance that his ministry is treating with the needs of fire officers with priority.
In a media release on Easter Monday, he said he has taken note of comments made in the newspaper with respect to the availability of equipment for the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service (TTFS), and also noted the statements attributed to him on this matter and would like to share certain pertinent facts.
According to the release, more than one year ago, on March 20th 2022, the Cabinet approved the sum of $30.1 million under the Development Programme, to acquire a fleet of vehicles for the TTFS.
The vehicles included three water tenders, one emergency tender, one ambulance and one chemical industrial tender, among other vehicles.
The vehicles were to be assigned to the fire stations at Mayaro, Penal and Pt Fortin.
The procurement of these vehicles falls under the purview of the Central Tenders Board, (CTB) which, subject to the confirmation of funding from the Ministry of Finance and pursuant to Cabinet’s approval, would have issued tenders inviting bids to supply equipment to serve the Penal and Pt Fortin Fire stations.
The minister said the procurement process to get the equipment for these stations are at varying stages of progress.
He noted that the procurement process from order to delivery takes between 15 to 18 months, as it is only when an order is placed and a down payment made that equipment will be prepared to the required specifications for the TTFS’ purposes.
The Minister further confirmed that some equipment has already been purchased and is expected to arrive in TT within the next three weeks.
The ministry, he said, is continuing to work with the Central Tenders Board and the Chief Fire Officer, Mr Arnold Bristo, to ensure that equipment can be procured and delivered as quickly as possible.
CFO Bristo has confirmed to the ministry that there are currently five stations without water tenders and that these stations are supported by the other 21 stations nationwide.
According to the CFO: “While the TTFS is under some constraint with the increasing spate of bush fires, residential and commercial fires, and other incidents that require our intervention, we acknowledge and support the ministry’s efforts to get the equipment we need. Water tenders and other vehicles are not items that can be purchased overnight and in fact, some equipment was placed on order more than one year ago and we are awaiting delivery.”