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#143527 - 04/23/02 07:55 PM lack of functional fire protection system
susangg Offline
...On an island and town and business center of the size and of the financial importance to Belize as San Pedro, Ambergris Caye is simply inexcusable.
In 1999 there was a devastating fire, resulting in serious property damage. The damage was exacerbated by the fact that it had to be fought with lines of people handing each other buckets because the fire truck did not work.
Since that time, tax payers and foreign donors have provided two trucks and built a new fire station.
Yet, once again, a devastating fire occurred, and once again, it was fought by citizens manning buckets (and, I understand, belated use of one of two fire trucks).
The recent fire demonstrates that the fire protection service in San Pedro is not run properly.
There are only two explanations for the failure of the fire equipment to do the job last weekend: (1) scheduled maintenance and testing of ALL FUNCTIONS of the equipment (and particularly the water pumping function) is NOT being done on a daily basis, or any kind of regular basis; OR (1) it IS being tested, the fire chief knew that the equipment was not functioning and chose to ignore it -- or reported it to his superiors and they chose to ignore it?
Does anyone really believe that the system is regularly checked, that it was checked the morning of the fire, and that it all worked perfectly..then inexplicably broke down that evening?
This is what is called a "systems failure" and the responsibility lies not only with the fire chief and fire department but with whoever is responsible for overseeing it.
The citizens, business community and property owners of Ambergris Caye need a fire fighting system that works. I guess in order to provide that, it will have to be re-organized from the ground up, and subjected to frequent random, and publicly observed full scale drills, which all equipment is utilized and the personnel's use of that equipment observed.
It's great to congratulate brave citizens who fight fires with their bare hands and buckets, and to raise money for those who lost property (thank God nobody was hurt or even killed, we may not be so lucky next time).
But isn't it time to also do whatever is necessary to find out why, once again, the Ambergris Caye fire protection system is a bucket brigade...and to make sure it does not happen, again, the next time there is a fire?
And if it means another tax assessment, I am ready to pay my share.

Susan Guberman-Garcia
Susan Guberman-Garcia, Attorney at Law. Phone: 510-792-2639
Fax/Voicemail:: 510-405-2016 Email: susangg@garcia.mpowermail.com

#143528 - 04/24/02 03:22 AM Re: lack of functional fire protection system
Richard Chambers Offline
Hmmmm, this must have happened on Belize time
, again....go figure !!

#143529 - 04/24/02 06:35 AM Re: lack of functional fire protection system
Mosquitorose Offline
LMAO..Belize...love it or leave it. It takes a while to get accustomed to Belize ways...but be patient ....you will arrive eventually. The best is yet to come. lol


[This message has been edited by Mosquitorose (edited 04-23-2002).]
Love is a many splendid thing and food runs a close second.

#143530 - 04/24/02 07:14 AM Re: lack of functional fire protection system
susangg Offline
And your point is.....What? That the next fire will probably be even worse, and the absence of preparation to respond even more egregious? That nobody else cares, so why should I?
I hope you are wrong. We'll see...
Susan Guberman-Garcia, Attorney at Law. Phone: 510-792-2639
Fax/Voicemail:: 510-405-2016 Email: susangg@garcia.mpowermail.com

#143531 - 04/24/02 08:13 AM Re: lack of functional fire protection system
seashell Offline
Susan, I hope that you are able to make some inroads with this campaign.

I know that we were not there and so don't have all of the details or a real picture of what happened and how things were actually handled. But it is quite apparent that this could have been a much worse tragedy. It is heartening to hear of the people working together but it seems a terrible shame, after all of the hype of receiving the gift of the new firetruck, that when it was so desperately needed, it couldn't perform.

Inasmuch as I don't live in San Pedro, I know I don't have any right to say how things should be handled but it sure seems that there is some change needed. Hopefully, in your position you'll be able to help affect that change before there is a much worse tragedy and loss of life.
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?

#143532 - 04/24/02 09:33 AM Re: lack of functional fire protection system
susangg Offline
Well, I don't live there either, so some folks might think I don't have the right to an opinion. But I do own property there and pay taxes there, and I think that gives me the right to express concern on matters like this.
I have no "campaign," I'm just someone who has an opinion and is not afraid to share it.
It's going to be up to the local people to see that their local government-- which includes the fire department --is made to work for them. I hope they care enough to do it. I hope the local newspaper does some digging about this. I'd sure like to see how much money is spent on fire protection, where it is going, and where it is not going.
A lot of community issues get lost in party politics. I hope this one doesn't. It's not a partisan issue. Fire knows no party lines. Everybody is vulnerable, and small local businesses and homeowners are a lot more vulnerable to loss from fire than gringo property owners. They are far more likely to have no insurance and no resources to fall back on if their property is destroyed because the people who are supposed to protect it are off partying instead of making sure that the fire equipment is ready to go.
Susan Guberman-Garcia, Attorney at Law. Phone: 510-792-2639
Fax/Voicemail:: 510-405-2016 Email: susangg@garcia.mpowermail.com

#143533 - 04/24/02 04:07 PM Re: lack of functional fire protection system
seashell Offline
Perhaps "campaign" was a poor choice of words. Regardless, you are a property owner and I'm assuming connected to the community in other ways. I'm hoping that you will be able to get a ball rolling, if it hasn't started already.
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?

#143534 - 04/24/02 04:14 PM Re: lack of functional fire protection system
Marty Offline
as a friend told me, It's a NATIONAL fire service, run from Belmopan with no control or oversight here on the island.... and therein lies the problem!

#143535 - 04/24/02 05:55 PM Re: lack of functional fire protection system
Chloe Offline
This much I know, in my business which is not fire fighting, I do not sleep or party until whatever needs to be fixed, is fixed.
Also I do not let the people needed in the fix sleep either, until they get involved for the fix.
Dare To Deviate

#143536 - 04/25/02 05:52 PM Re: lack of functional fire protection system
ljacks Offline
susangg is right. I do live here and have seen over the last few years the fire department at work. I do not believe that they have yet to take credit for putting out any of the major fires that have taken place. In this last one the fire department took overt 30 minutes to arrive even though they are less than ¼ mile away. Apparently the 911 emergency number was called but was disconnected, and the fireman could not be located (not at the station). When they did arrive they tried to run a fire hose about 2000 feet to the ocean where they sucked up sand and jammed the pumps. .. thus the bucket brigade. After the fire, hoses were left laying around to be driven over and damaged. I have personally had young women complain of being harassed by fireman in front of the station as they walk by. Generally the lack of supervision, training and a code of conduct is obvious.

This is a great place to live but when it comes to emergency services it is about as bad as it can get. There is not even an ambulance to move people and doctors on weekends are almost impossible to find. The police department has one vehicle and a golf cart and no radios and I do not think even a computor.
With emergency services in place … what an ideal community. Local people need to fight for emergency service, fire, hospital, better policing.
With so much money around here .. I do not understand the poor state of emergency services.

2 other points.
1) has anyone ever considered why, when the underground water system was put into place that fire hydrants were not installed. The ocean is not near every place here.
2) if the same effort was put into training and getting leadership into the fire department then the massive effort to fundraise would not be as necessary. I understand that if they were there quickly (which they we not) and their stuff worked, then most of the buildings would have survived. This is a great community in a reactionary way .. but not great in forward thinking.

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