Fire Chief Leslie Fontenelle says the current situation among fire officers regarding their concerns over employment conditions are out of his hands.
Fire stations were closed Saturday as a result of a sickout staged by 60 percent of fire officers to protest against what they consider little effort to address their concerns.
The Fire Service Welfare Association wants government to act on their concerns on recommendations coming out of the 2013 Commission of Inquiry (COI).
Fontenelle told GIS that Saturday’s move compromised the safety of the north district since the Gros Islet Fire Station was down-scaled to redeploy resources to the George F.L Charles Airport. For security reasons, especially with Jazz and Arts Festival on the weekend, 12 officers from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were reportedly called in as added manpower.
Fontenelle said he is however thankful that the day passed incident-free.
“We have been very challenged over the dry season. Just the week before we responded to 23 bush fires so obviously there would be a concern that if that same level of bush fires were to emerge in that situation it would produce almost an impossible situation for the department,” Fontenelle told GIS.
“It is a very uncertain situation because of the fact that the [Fire Service Welfare] Association has assumed that kind of posture in dealing with this matter. Really, none of the actions are at my level,” he said.