Deputy fire chief responds to manpower issues

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Deputy fire chief responds to manpower issues
Lambert Charles, Deputy Fire Chief.
Lambert Charles, Deputy Fire Chief of the Saint Lucia Fire Service.

Amid concerns about a major shortage of fire officers island-wide, Deputy Fire Chief Lambert Charles has said that the issue lies with the central government to ensure that the Saint Lucia Fire Service (SLFS) is properly staffed.

Charles told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) today that the staff shortage is not a new issue and while fingers may be pointed to the management of the SLFS, they have no control over this issue.

He said, “We have been making recommendations every year, but as you know we fall under the Home Affairs Ministry and until the central government has made a decision to give us the green light to hire, we cannot.”

The deputy fire chief recalled that a feasibility study was done a few years ago, which actually pointed to the issue of staff shortage and recommendations were also made to have more persons hired within the fire service.

However, the government of the day, did not act on the recommendation and to date the issue has become much larger.

Station Officer at the Castries Fire Station Bernard Prospere told HTS News Force on Monday that the current batch of fire officers are being overworked and it has started to have a psychological effect on them.

He said there are five units to man within the Castries Fire Station and only nine staff to do it. According to him, a minimum of four persons should be attached to each of the four units.

Additionally, the two water tenders at the station also requires four fire officers. The control room is also short on one staff. Prospere said that there should be at least 18-20 fire officers on duty to cover each shift.

When asked to comment on whether he agrees with Prospere, that the shortage has started to affect the fire officers psychologically, the deputy fire chief said, “Well of course. We have ambulances on the road 24 hrs a day, which responds to shootings and other incidents apart from fires. We are also in the dry season so that would compound the whole situation.”

Following an island-wide strike by fire officers during September 2014, Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony had announced plans to review the operations and management of the SLFS by a team of British experts.

Charles said he is awaiting government to commence this evaluation, so that these issues could be ironed out.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. it has become quite clear to me now, that who feels it knows it and some people don't understand and recognize the nature of a firefighters job. how can you compare a fireman and one who works in the private sector. You talk about 10 hours in the DAY? for your information fire officers of the S.L.F.S. who works operational gives 16 hours of duty a NIGHT and MORE, depending on the time they received and respond to last emergency call in the morning and I'm talking about a sleepless night smart guy,that's right! my personal experience,I have gone to work on the night shift and start to drive ambulance from 5 pm to 11 am the following day without getting a chance to even eat something or return to base from one call to the other, carrying people 3 times my weight, long distance driving Millet, Canaries, Forestiere, Babonneau to name a few. Forget about the risk involve, people like you "Mr Anonymous and other private sector workers who work 10 hours in the DAY and then goes home, would be normally doing what at the time when all of this is taking place? By the way, I also want to know whether firemen are robots and they shouldn't have a sense of humor that once they are talking and laughing outside of the building that they don't have work to do. For your information again, it is legal and ok for us to do that whiles we are checking and testing our equipment to get ready mentally and physically to come to the rescue of people like you and others, are you not surprised? yes! and five minutes after you passed the fire station and see us laughing and talking we are also responding to an emergency call to save your property which is on fire and you mother or daughter who is burning in the house. I feel so embarrassed responding to this foolishness, I hope no one takes me for an idiot.

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  2. Some fire fighters have it too good. Very often you pass by the fire station and they are all outside talking casually like there is no work to be done. People from the private sector work sometimes over 10 hours a day because there is work to be done and they don't complain and very often they don't get paid overtime. So work with what you have in the meantime until the situation can be improved.

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    • i hope you have the same reaction when you need an ambulance or fire truck and there is no other officer to drive it because the rest are attending to a call at that moment.
      when they do work its riskier than sitting in an office a whole week. you cannot weigh the two

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    • i like that. i dnt know why it cant be allowed. at least they disallow it in the police, but should be allowed for the fire service i believe. maybe we should really look into making this happen. once your locks neatly kept. it is against one's humna rights to disallow them work because of their hair. MARY WHERE YOU THERE

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  3. Chief man power is not an issue, do like Vernon Francois, all the men u have in khaki going home at 4, put them to work extra hours, weekends and holiday, they getting duty allowance.....stop crying fowl and its a rooster.....lol

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  4. SLFS doesn't fall under the "intelligence" driveninitiatives of our favourite senator/ minister . The recommendations lacks intel

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