...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[email protected]