Fire Service gets four tenders valued $202.9M
– Minister Benn calls for more diversity in Fire Service
Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Robeson Benn says there needs to be more diversity in the Guyana Fire Service, even as investments are being made to upgrade and expand fire stations across the country. Four fire tenders valued $202.9 million were handed over to the GFS on Thursday, at the close of the first day of the two-day Guyana Fire Service Senior Officers’ Conference.
The tenders were procured with sums allocated from the 2019 and 2020 budgets to boost the capacity of the fire service. The vehicles would be dispatched to Melanie Damishana, East Coast Demerara, Eccles, East Bank Demerara, another to West Demerara and to the Central Fire Station in Georgetown.
Meanwhile, in his feature address, Minister Benn called for greater diversity and a level playing field for women entering the Service.
“They should not be discriminated against, that there should not be accusations of rape. We have to fight against those things and it is not sufficient for us to say it is not a supervisory issue or people could go away or whatever.
We must get early reporting of issues. We must examine all of our SOPs in respect of these issues, review them, practice the response to those issues so that we can mitigate these challenges and problems,” he said.
Minister Benn also stressed that women entering the Fire Service should not be side-lined into less active roles.
“We want them on the job in every sphere of activity and I hope one day we have a woman fire chief and that she would have come through a system which would have respected her and allowed her to break through and to lead us on.”
The Minister added that the Fire Service could benefit from having persons from diverse backgrounds in its staff complement.
“I know now we are expanding into Mabaruma, Lethem and Mahdia and we are working hard to bring in persons from those areas. I want to continue to stress that we cannot do our service, we cannot do it with empathy – we will not be able to set aside issue of seeming disdain or non-connection if we do not develop diversity in our services.
“Diversity brings in other experiences, other approaches, better optimisation in what we do and makes it possible for us to be more efficient in totality,” he said.
Minister Benn also called on the GFS to be more proactive. He said this entails things like following up on prank calls and ensuring fire sprinklers are installed in buildings three storeys or higher, among other things.
Meanwhile, Chief Fire Officer Mr. Kalamodeen Edoo said going forward, the Fire Service would be focusing on identifying gaps and strengthening its weaknesses. He outlined a 10-point plan that would be used to guide the way forward.
The plan includes modernising and rehabilitating the Service, the establishment of a legal department, implementation of fire safety building codes, creation of an occupational, safety and health department, regional and international training for staff, the designing of a management information system, operational core training for staff, better collaboration with Government agencies and the expansion of the Emergency Medical Service.
The Fire Service was allotted $1.9 billion in this year’s budget. Plans include the relocation of the Central Fire Station from the congested Stabroek Market Square, the construction of a new fire station at Eccles, and the procurement of six water tenders and two ambulances.
The conference is themed, “Understanding the Challenges and Working Towards Improving Fire and Rescue Services.”