If you've noticed the closed gates and missing firetrucks at the old fire station near Atlantic Bank, that's because they have relocated. You may remember that the station was sold over a year ago, in March 2020, to Atlantic bank for 2.8 million dollars. That money was to be used to build another station - which has yet to start construction, despite the initial deadline for the firefighters to vacate being mid-December.
The bank gave them an extension and that time is up, meaning that the station had to be temporarily relocated. The administrative offices are now on Sunrise Avenue, and the firetrucks are at the Marion Jones Stadium.
But the Minister of Sustainable Development, whose ministry the fire service falls under, says they've already found the space to start building the new station. He spoke to us via Zoom:
Fire-fighters Not Happy with Marion Jones Location
News Five's tip-line recently received reports from fire-fighters who describe the conditions at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex as deplorable. They claim no renovations have taken place and the welfare of those in the operational section is not being considered. News Five asked Fire Chief Colin Gillett about these reports. He says the situation is temporary during this transition period.
Colin Gillett, Fire Chief, National Fire Service
"The situation at Marion Jones is temporary. It's only been a month or so and so we are still getting all the things we need put in place there to make them as comfortable as possible. We understand the work that they do and we try to make sure that they have everything they need to do their jobs properly. So in the next couple weeks or so, all the things that they have issues with should be fixed because it is still just a transition period. If you look here, this is just a house as a headquarters. So my secretary sits next to a kitchen. So transition period; it is understandable, but I just ask them to bear with us and we will get to that point."
The Marion Jones Sporting Complex has been the home of the National Fires Service in Belize City for the better part of 2021. And it will remain the home of those fire fighters until a fire station is constructed on Chetumal Street. Work is set to begin sometime next year. Fire Chief Collin Gillett gave us an update on the construction.
Collin Gillett, Fire Chief, National Fire Service
"What has been happening with the construction of the stations, and retrofitting, we have already met with the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing. They are creating the plans. We have already gotten the designs, or preliminary designs for how the other stations outside are going to look. Because we are supposed to build six of those. Right now, we are working on the main headquarters building, which we have already given them a basic design of what we are looking for, which will hold the admin section, and a base for the mechanics to work, and be able to have an attack truck from there. So hopefully we are looking by January we will start to see the draft plans, and then get the paper work for the land, things like that. What we have been doing right now, is fix the other stations, see what they really need. But we need to make sure our fire fighters are comfortable, and where they are working, the environment is actually better than they had before."