Chairman of the St. Lucia Fire Service Association (SLFSA) Shane Felix has said he is pleased that a decision has been finally taken against former Fire Chief Leslie Fontenelle.
Felix told. St. Lucia News Online (SNO) today that most members are generally pleased, but there are a few who have expressed their dissatisfaction with the recommendation made by the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Asked if he is pleased with the decision to have Fontenelle placed on early retirement, the SLFSA head said there are some issues within that decision, but he would refrain from commenting.
Nevertheless, Felix said he is optimistic that the fire service will be in a better position to move on and ensure that professionalism and decency is restored to the organisation.
However, Felix said there are a number of persons who were affected by the former fire chief’s action and there seems to be no focus on that. He believes that these persons should be given some sort of relief.
Questioned as to whether there are still loopholes in the system that would allow for a repeat of the same actions taken by Fontenelle, Felix said, “I hope not.”
“We are having meetings with the government and I hope this sets the tone for attitudes to change in the department. There really is a need for raising moral and keeping employees motivated too,” he added.
He reminded that the Fire Service Act needs urgent review and explained that that is one of the things currently being discussed between the association and the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“I really hope that this process doesn’t take too long,” Felix said, while noting that the promotions are long overdue and the proposed Sexual Harassment Policy must also take effect soon.
Fontenelle was sent on early retirement, but remains aircraft rescue and fire fighting adviser for Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA), a position that was created by government for the former fire chief.
A 2014 inquiry commissioned into the conduct of Fontenelle and other senior fire officers, confirmed allegations of intimidation, abuse of authority and mismanagement.