No real solutions to problems plaguing Fire Service

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No real solutions to problems plaguing Fire Service

Members of the T&T Fire Service Association (TTFSA) were left unhappy and with little to nothing following a meeting with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security on Wednesday.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the plaguing issues affecting the service and to find ways to bring some relief.

However, TTFSA president Leo Ramkissoon listed several issues plaguing officers including the lack of fire appliances and breathing apparatus sets, which are critical for the job.

He described the meeting as “cordial.”

“I would have indicated clearly to the Permanent Secretary and the Chief Fire Officer that every day that passes, every fire call and every response that passes, and the officers whom we represent have to go out and face those risks without the best or even appropriate measure of personal protective equipment or fire trucks, is really an indictment on the overall management of the service and it places the officers in a position that we cannot say that we are comfortable with at all,” he said.

“So, we are certainly not leaving here today saying that we are comforted but we are saying that the discussions I think would have led to some commitments that we are really responsible for ensuring that we follow up with them on and we would be also looking forward.”

Ramkissoon said while they were told fire trucks will be purchased soon, they were also told parts will be ordered to repair appliances currently down pending mechanical works.

“So, it’s parts that they would be ordering to fix the trucks that are down. So, we are looking at the end of May, June and with purchasing trucks, acquiring an appliance takes many months going into years for the ordering process, so again, I can’t leave here happy. I can’t leave here saying that we are satisfied,” Ramkissoon said.

“All we know is that they have been shaken up by the situation and I hope that the powers that be, being the Cabinet, recognise this very very concerning …, this very serious situation.”

Ramkissoon added: “We made it clear to the Permanent Secretary, fire officers, under the current risk that they face, has every right under the Section 14 and 15 of the OSH Act to refuse to respond and every day, every time that they respond in these circumstances, they are, in fact, placing their life and limb in serious risk, so they are really giving up a real important portion of their life in order to perform the duties for the public and they doing it in many instances at their own expense; officers are spending out of their own pocket to do this job.”

“We cannot, in all fairness and all honesty, go to our members and call on them in any real way to disregard their own safety and their own health, ignore that, as if it is not a factor that must be considered. We can’t ignore that. I cannot say that we leave the meeting satisfied because the situation has not been resolved and this situation calls for immediate resolution.”