Fire chief, association clash over office relocation

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Fire chief, association clash over office relocation
Leslie Fontenelle. *GIS photo.
Fire Chief Leslie Fontenelle had reportedly written the SLFSA informing them of the relocation. * GIS photo.

The St. Lucia Fire Service Association (SLFSA) and the management of the St. Lucia Fire Service (SLFS) are at war again.

This time the SLFSA is accusing Chief Fire Officer Leslie Fontenelle of forcing them out of their Monoel Street, Castries office.

Former president of the SLFSA Shane Felix told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) today, August 29, that the association is now without an office after all the locks were changed and the keys taken away. Felix told SNO that the SLFSA has been in this situation for the past three weeks.

He admitted that Fontenelle had written the association, informing them of the relocation.

“The chief fire officer doesn’t have the sole right to decide to relocate us. Anything that has to be done with the association has to be done in consultation,” Felix said.

However, Deputy Chief Fire Officer Lambert Charles has debunked the arguments. He told SNO today that the office is located within the administrative block and the plan was to have the office relocated within the same building. The instruction, he said, came directly from Fontenelle.

Charles stated that the association was written to, on two occasions, and failed to respond. According to him, a senior fire officer even had a discussion with Felix regarding the relocation and he (Felix) made it clear to the officer that the SLFSA will not be moving.

The deputy chief fire officer asserted that such behaviour will not be tolerated at the SLFA.

“For an officer who has been credited with a facility of having an office, to refuse to move to another office when directed by the chief, is tantamount to gross indiscipline,” he added.

Charles told SNO that the SLFS is not obligated to provide an office for the SLFSA, but has done so in good faith.

“They are in a position to rent office space because they collect dues from its members, however, the chief did not consider that at all, he just asked that they be relocated to another office, not for them to leave the building,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Felix said that upon discovering that the locks were changed he called to inquire from Fontenelle about his decision and was disconnected.

“He has since informed members of the SLFSA via a general circular that the association is operating illegally, because in his opinion, the association’s two-year tenure is up and its reports have not been submitted.”

Further, Felix has accused the fire chief of refusing to approve meetings for the association. “Not for the executive, not for the association to meet with the Trade Union Federation, and now that you have negotiations ongoing with the government, it means that the association is not able to make proper representation on those issues for its members,” he added.

The SLFSA said it is afraid that its documents could be tampered with. Felix told SNO that the issue has now moved beyond attacking the members and executives of the SLFSA, but the attention has now been shifted on him personally. The former head stated that this is fueled by his action to speak out on matters affecting members within the SLFS and his calls to have the recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry (COI) acted upon.

“They are basically out to attack me to ensure that the work of the association does not continue,” he claims.

Felix pointed to situations where the Ministry of National Security having to step in and instruct the management of the fire service to recognise the various persons, including himself, who are members of the executives of the SLFSA.

Felix said unless the issues relating to the COI are addressed, fire officials will continue to face challenges and the abuse of authority are likely to escalate. Members of the SLFSA have responded to the recent incident and have suggested to Felix, some avenues by which they can take to have their concerns addressed.

However, Felix said the fact that he and executives are barred from meeting with members, makes it hard in finding consensus on the way forward.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Former president? Where is the current President? Seriously when a house catches fire by the time these guys get there the structure is already a total loss. I am not attributing that to a slow response, it's just a fact. I am just saying!

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  2. What is this bag of confusion? Who is in charge? First off establish a line of command. Everyone cannot be boss. Do as the boss says. It's the bosses way or the highway.

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  3. Those who know know,those who don`t don`t. H ad it not been for the works of shane and the executive,none of what is know known about the fire service wouldn`t have been. The chief would still be operating as the tyrant that he is along with his cronies,one being the deputy and all the illegalities and corruption would continue unexposed and unhindered. Trust me when i say that the brigade would be alot worse off if it hadn`t been for shane. That`s what u get for trying to do the right thing anyway,you get vilified.

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  4. I think people mixing the commission of inquiries with asking someone to relocate to another office space.Sand and sugar.I see nothing wrong with that request inspite of all hidden agendas.Felix should show maturity and be the bigger man and don't get caught in the chief game.So i take it the chief cannot take any administrative decisions once it involves Felix.I am not with you on that one Felix.

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    • first of all bambi you have it mix when u say felix should be the bigger man.cause when u speak of the fsa u speak of all fire personnel not including the chief. felix is only the voice of the firefighters and just like mary issac who represents the csa.

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  5. why civilains want to comment and take sides without having info from both sides, if felix is bad and out of order then the chief is worse than satan

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  6. I honestly do not believe that some of us have listened to the issues of being addressed by Felix. A commission of inquiry finds a man guilty on so many counts, he is still at the helm an it is Shane Felix we have a problem with? If your subordinate calks to discuss you changing the locks on the association's office you hung up on him how professional is that? Felix has balls that most wish they had and this is why it has become personal. If it was me in your place young man i'd allow the officers to fight their damn case at this point and resign. Don't think this fight is worth your tenacity. I admire you brave soldier.

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  7. These two idiots start again, both believe they too big to be spoken to, government should tranfer both their asses to other departments....send felix to the traffic to patrol castries and send fontinelle to infrastruture to supervise road works. These fellas destroying the fire service

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  8. Fire Chief is being vindictive. I greatly admire Shane Felix. It takes balls to stand up for what is right. The recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry should be implemented, otherwise why even go through the sham of launching a Commission of Inquiry if you were never going to implement the recommendations. More waste of Tax payer's money. Government now needs to grow a pair and do the right thing!!This situation has festered long enough.

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  9. Shane Felix is a clear cut case of why civil servants are looked down upon. He is greatly insubordinate and ill disciplined and clearly does not have St. Lucia, the Fire Service or civil citizens at heart. He is on his own agenda. Such behaviour would never be tolerated ir accepted in other industry or country. Further more, if he is tye FORMER president why doesn't he allow the current head to speak out. A man who loves to hear his own voice...

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  10. I have listened to Felix on many occasions and I have drawn to the conclusion that this man is very indisciple and disrespectful to his authorities. He is the cause of all the malay in the SLFS. Hope his members are seeing through this guy, he has an agenda. Sorry sir you cannot get my support on this stupidity.

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  11. A bunch of fire men with no work to do fighting over an office. You are not owed an office, why fight against being relocated to another.
    If you have no fire to attend to I suggest you go help the police patrol the streets of Castries.

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    • if his attitudes and actions is wrong or as u say a cause of concern.he is not hiding why have the government deal with him?

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  12. I don't support indiscipline.If what the deputy chief said is correct i am in full support of the chief.I was always supportive of Felix and his members in their struggles but no Felix you are wrong.They dont owe you an office space you are their gratis so if they asked you to relocate then just relocate man.You are being seen now as cantankerous,rebellious,indiscipline added to insubordination.Don't inflame the situation with management.

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  13. It's time this situation be resolved, why don't they implement the recommendations from the commission of enquiry?

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