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#427656 - 01/13/12 08:28 AM Firefighters Being Brought To New Standard
Marty Offline
If you've ever been at the scene of a fire, then you'll know that no one gets more cruelly criticized than firefighters. A large part of that comes from the fact that fires invariably provoke chaos, and the firemen and women have to control that chaos - which can sometimes look like a mess.

And so, whether fairly or not, they get dragged through the mud worse than a fire hose across a mangrove swamp. But now, the Department is trying to change its image - turning firefighting from a past-time to a profession.

We saw as much at a pass out for 19 recruits today:..

Hon. Melvin Hulse - Minister Responsible for Fire Dept.
"We have tried to make sure the fire department in Belize become the respected organization that internationals they get, but respect can only be gotten by the people first who work at the Fire Department and understand that you must first have self- respect and respect the profession you are in. The days when you only wanted to be a fireman because it was a part time job because getting a fulltime job was hard to get must be over with."

Jules Vasquez reporting
And with that in mind - the first passing our exercise in maybe over a decade was held to show the fire department as a disciplined force.

Just like the BDF or police they did demonstrations of fitness, and competence in this fire simulation to show off the skills they've mastered in 13 weeks of training:

Francis Thomas, Fire Chief
"At the end of the day when you look at our mission it's to save lives and property, and that is extremely important. And to do that there is a science and there is an art to it, and that science and art is to practice here so it can be done effectively and efficiently."

And just so, the symbolism of a passing out as a disciplined force is important in what it communicates:

Francis Thomas, Fire Chief
"And it starts first in house by us ensuring that we are able to do our job efficiently. In that way the people will definitely appreciate and expect as serious as efficient fire fighters as possible."

That message was clear to Champion recruit is Deitrick Kingston who is grateful for the discipline

Deitrick Kingston, Champion recruit
"It's hard to express the kind of happiness that I have right now that I passed out and actually get to be on an intake. I've been waiting for this a very long time. They kept saying that they will have recruit training. Some of us got discouraged and just carried on to something else, but for the rest of us that stuck it out here as a volunteer, we've been here very long waiting on this."

The public has been waiting too:

Hon. Melvin Hulse
"We are trying to increase and re-structure the organization because a lot of times people were just occupying in there, and nobody was being encouraged to move up; nobody was being encouraged to study more and to get more training. You must understand that you are important. The days of working with a standard six school certificate and you come here to kill time for 20 years for a salary is done and over."

The passing out is part of an effort to bring the fire department to its full complement of staff; it has long operated at around 50% of staff requirements.

Channel 7

#427660 - 01/13/12 08:34 AM Re: Firefighters Being Brought To New Standard [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

New fire-fighters join the service

Today the Belize National Fire Service officially welcomed a new intake of firemen. The recruits, who trained for three months will be attached to stations around the country. Aside from the lessons to tackle fires, at the ceremony this morning, they acknowledged the importance of teamwork. News Five’s Andrea Polanco was at the event, where the new fire fighters showed off their foot, physical and wet drills.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Nineteen new recruits were officially called as fire-fighters today. After thirteen weeks of intense training, Fire Chief, Francis Thomas says the young men are ready to serve the department:

Lt. Col. Francis Thomas, Fire Chief

Francis Thomas

“The training has been focused on the basics just to give the starting knowledge for the recruits, basically focusing on the fire behavior, pump on the fire truck, the use of the hoses, ladders and search and rescue in terms of the forceful break-in into structures.”

Andrea Polanco

“So these trainings that they have received, of course they are fully prepared should a fire arise anywhere?”

Lt. Col. Francis Thomas

“Roger that. These guys are fully capable of operating as a fire team on the truck and effectively do their job.”

Melvin Hulse

Minister of NEMO, Melvin Hulse, says this addition of the new fire fighters is critical to the fire service department:

Melvin Hulse, Minister of NEMO

“The public and the people who work for the fire department have never understood how serious and important the fire department is to a nation and to its people. The fire department is that service that stands between the life and death of families in their homes, people in buildings and at work, people at parties and what’s not. They are what stand between them. The fire department is what determines if poverty continues in poor people’s homes around this country, who cannot and do not insure their homes.”

Having received their certificates, Thomas says the new recruits will be deployed across the country:

Lt. Col. Francis Thomas

“They will be stationed across the country. They will be deployed to the different stations, for example, Ladyville which we just commissioned and also Pomona and other established stations like Orange Walk, Corozal, and so.”

And to boost that labour force, Hulse says much needed upgrades will follow:

Melvin Hulse

“We wah put more fire truck in Caye Caulker, more in San Pedro, we wah put on the Peninsula, we wah put in Pomona, up dah Ladyville,. We are putting fire trucks out there and we wah continue to build more fire stations. We wah got more equipment, more fire truck, more fire stations. We are putting in fire hydrants because dah nuh joke. Wah fire truck nuh last waata that long. And you get deh in the best of time as possible but if you run outta waata you going to have a problem.”

Deitrick Kingston

While equipment is vital, Valedictorian of the class, Deitrick Kingston, says teamwork is also key:

Deitrick Kingston, Valedictorian

“We have been taught many skills, ranging from search and rescue to fire suppression, but one of the most valuable skills that we have been taught is teamwork. We have been shown to work effectively as a team to accomplish task. In the fire service nothing can be accomplished unless everyone work together as team.”

For these new firefighters to continue on the right path, Hulse tasked the senior fire officials to play a proactive role in setting an example:

Melvin Hulse

“Let me start by those already in the system. How good our recruits become will be determined by the exact role of those people in the system; and so those of you all, who have been in the fire department and have kept this organization going, must take your self and the department to another level by showing example; by not driving the equipment up and down all bout the place the kill time di use it like taxi, like being there to answer a call in time of emergency, by maintaining equipment at all time because nothing more flipping ridiculous and you call pahn fire truck and yuh hear the fire truck cyaa start and the tank is empty; now that is ridiculous and saying sorry nuh help one single person buy back and start again in their homes when they have lost all their household.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

Channel 5


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