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Firefighters battle blaze despite lack of equipment

Firefighters battle blaze despite lack of equipment

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The Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Fire Department has, in the past, been criticised for what some refer to as poor preparedness and inadequate equipment to effectively fight fires.{{more}}

Saturday morning’s fire, which occurred on the third floor of an Upper Middle Street building, was no different, as persons watched on, as the firemen struggled to gain access to the building, with little protective gear.

“We have money to build airport, but we don’t have money to upgrade our fire services,” was one person’s comment.

“The building go done bun down, by de time dem get to out de fire,” another person said.

Members of the fire department, initially without the aid of masks or oxygen, braved the thick clouds of black smoke.

This sparked immediate reaction from the crowd, with some going as far as to advise the firefighters to abandon the burning building, in order to protect themselves against any impending danger.

Persons suggested that there was insufficient water in the Fire Tender.

“There needs to be access to a fire hydrant,” one woman declared.

Others readily acknowledged the comment, claiming, “this was the norm.”

By 9:30 a.m., a large crowd had already gathered at the intersection of Egmont and Middle Streets, just as the fire department, along with civilians and members of the Police Force were seen trying to remove the burglar bars with the use of a hacksaw.

This triggered even more comment that the fire department was not prepared to effectively handle the situation.

As police officers moved civilians away from the scene to protect them in the event that something should fall, the lawmen were verbally abused in return.

“You had to go in police force to get roof over your head,” one bystander said.

While some criticized, other civilians encouraged the firefighters with applause when firefighting equipment finally arrived on the scene. There was even more applause when the men got the burglar bars removed and were able to get into the building.

Even though they were verbally abused and accused by some civilians, the firefighters and even volunteer civilians, did not give in to the negative criticisms, but persevered until their task was completed, over seven hours later, sometime after 4 in the afternoon.

Officer in charge of the Fire Service, Assistant Superintendant of Police Isaiah Browne told Searchlight, “We would respond and try our best with what equipment we have available for use. We use them and we fight the fire to the best of our ability.”

One firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation. (DD/DC)

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