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Fire Chief defends his department

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The head of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Fire Department, Assistant Superintendent of Police, (ASP) Isaiah Browne, says that he is satisfied that his men did a good job, despite the limitations, to contain the fire which started in a boutique, Kingstown, on the morning of Saturday, September 18.{{more}}

“I would say yes, we did a good job, and thank God that we saved the building, because in those situations, you can lose the entire block,” Browne told SEARCHLIGHT.

The fire chief said the objective was to contain the fire and deal with it to ensure that there were no major losses.

He gave the assurance that this was accomplished.

Browne was responding to criticisms levelled at the firefighters and officers at the scene of the blaze as well as the Fire Department.

“I am not saying that there mustn’t be criticism, but it must be constructive so all of us could improve the way we function,” he said.

“Today it might be my problem, but tomorrow it might be your problem, and we have to look at it from this angle,” Browne contended.

The fire chief disclosed that he received a call around 10 a.m. and upon his arrival at the scene, he assumed the position of commander of operations.

Browne further explained that he immediately identified some flaws and made changes.

One such change, he said, was to fix a leaking hose.

“I realized that there was a leaking hose, and removed the particular length and made a relay,” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

He also explained what many persons may have assumed to be a leaking tank on the fire tender, was in fact a relay: that is the hose ran from the fire hydrant to the truck, then on to the burning building.

This, said Browne, was to ensure that there was enough water pressure to adequately extinguish the fire.

He said the water that persons saw “leaking out” from the truck, was in fact excess water.

Sergeant 127 Charles Adams of the fire department, while acknowledging the need for better fire fighting equipment, also defended his unit.

“I heard the public on Saturday and it is really disheartening to know that we are trying our best and all we are getting is this negative feedback,” Charles told SEARCHLIGHT.

“It is public knowledge that we have inadequate equipment, but we put our lives on the line and that was demonstrated on Saturday,” he said.

Charles stated that while the general public expected the fire department to respond to and immediately contain a fire, the public also has its role to play.

Charles said in some instances, when the firemen arrives on the scene of a fire, there would be no room for them to go on with their task because of persons who flood the scene.

He was also of the view that some business owners and private citizens do not take the issue of fire safety seriously.

Meanwhile, the men said that the Fire Department is currently in the process of obtaining some basic firefighting equipment.

“This will allow us to look like a fire department,” Browne said. (DD)