(BARBADOS TODAY) – Firefighters had to be called in from stations around the country to man the station at Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) this morning, after fire officers posted there reportedly called in sick.
The last-ditch effort prevented any disruptions and ensured the smooth flow of air traffic throughout the day, official sources said.
According to the sources, eight officers were scheduled to be on duty for this morning’s shift, but most of the drivers failed to show up.
A representative of the Barbados Fire Service Association would only confirm that a number of officers had indeed reported sick.
However, one person with intimate knowledge of the officers’ grievances complained that conditions at the Paragon facility were far from adequate, and that the firefighters had reached the tipping point because their repeated appeals for improvements had fallen on deaf ears.
“The lighting throughout the station is very poor, the urinals in the bathroom are not working and the station is leaking. What is also ironic is that the emergency exit at the fire station is not working, [neither is] . . . the buzzer system to let people in. So you would have somebody outside trying to get in and people in the station would not know that they are outside,” the official explained, adding that GAIA Inc, which is responsible for the maintenance of the building, had failed miserably in this regard.
The source further stated that not even a visit by Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite last year had spurred the airport authorities to repair the “rundown” facility.
“The officers are constantly complaining and the Attorney General even visited last year and they still have not looked at the building. This is ridiculous. Here you have the fire department telling businesses that they must have an emergency escape, yet officers are expected to function at a station that does not have one.”
Barbados TODAY visited the airport fire station today and confirmed that the buzzer was indeed not working, as the team was unable to attract the attention of anyone inside.