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Shameful that fire stations in EE & Capoons Bay remain closed- Chief Fire Officer

- said territory’s leaders should pay more attention to service agencies in 2017
The fire stations in Capoons Bay and East End/Long Look remain closed due to lack of fire trucks. Photo: VINO/VIFRS
Chief Fire Officer Zebalon A. McLean is disappointed that the fire stations in Capoons Bay and East End/Long Look remain closed due to lack of fire tenders. Photo: VINO/File
Chief Fire Officer Zebalon A. McLean is disappointed that the fire stations in Capoons Bay and East End/Long Look remain closed due to lack of fire tenders. Photo: VINO/File
A fire truck that was decommissioned about two years ago. Photo: Provided/File
A fire truck that was decommissioned about two years ago. Photo: Provided/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Zebalon A. McClean has called on the territory’s leaders to pay special attention to the police, health and the fire services this year, 2017.

In an exclusive interview with Virgin Islands News Online on Saturday December 31, 2016, Mr McClean said the proper equipment is crucial to the deploying of their service to the public and while the Virgin Islands’ economic status may not be booming, there is nothing more important than saving a life.

Deserve to be paid special attention

The CFO of the Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Services noted that there were “some aspects that were disappointing” in 2016, such as some goals that were not met.

 “…Such as the reopening of stations, the repair of equipment and the purchase and commissioning of new vehicles. But that did not happen. We are still experiencing over-arching economic challenges that of course affect every department, not just mine. But I will continue to say that we do deserve to be paid special attention.”

Mr McLean added, “I don’t care how robust your economics are, the reason why you do it is for people. I would argue that there is nothing more important than saving a life. We are hoping that for 2017, hopefully, we can see a bit more robust action in the economy which would allow for the consideration of more equipment for the department. I am hoping that our leaders will see that we are here to protect not just structures but people.”

Closure of Capoons Bay & EE fire stations shameful

Meantime, the CFO has opened up about his feelings about the closure of the Capoons Bay fire station as well as the one in East End/ Long Look, where he is from and resides.

The two stations have been closed for some time now due to the unavailability of working fire tenders.

“I was raised in Long Look and I live in Long Look and we have a station up there, and every single night I go home, I go home to a fire safety station that is closed, and it is something that leaves me ashamed. And we have all those businesses, the homes in my area, and I am the Chief, and I am lacking the equipment to take care of my own community, and it is not been for lack of trying.”

Need for fire trucks critical

Mr McLean believes it is very easy to open a fire station and to leave it open, however, fire trucks must be available. “…and our trucks have been here so long, they are now passed their useful life, so as things have been tight, they have not been replaced, so what we are trying to do is to repair them. But every type of machine has a lifespan, and with a fire truck, a fire truck always has to start quickly and get running quickly. It has to be able to carry a great deal of water at high speeds, at round turns, up hills and down hills and because of the nature of the job it causes natural wear and tear. So we are forced with the fact that because we have not been able to receive replacements in a timely manner as you would like we are doing repairs on them.”

Mr McLean also added that it would be easier for the Capoons Bay station to respond to emergencies on the western side of the island and save valuable time, which could mean life and death; instead of having to rush from the capital Road Town.

Outer islands now equipped

In terms of the outer islands-Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, and Virgin Gorda- they each have an “old” but functioning fire service truck.

Another goal of the department would be to have an ambulance attached to each station; as is the case now, only the Virgin Gorda station has one and for Tortola, it is operated by the hospital.

Notable achievements for 2016

On the flip side, McClean is proud of his officers who he said do a splendid job and are often complimented by the public on their interactions with them. He said in 2016, there was an increase in fire safety inspections in businesses, lectures, and drills for schools and private businesses, and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) began their rotation training with the aim of becoming responding EMT’s.

He also gave the populace a tap on their backs for, in many cases, following the basic fire safety tips that the fire service gives from time to time and are quick to contact them and let them know that they are needed.

17 Responses to “Shameful that fire stations in EE & Capoons Bay remain closed- Chief Fire Officer”

  • Me (02/01/2017, 11:11) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    shame...there should be a fire truck and ambulance in both east end and capons bay.
  • civil servant (02/01/2017, 11:13) Like (14) Dislike (1) Reply
    this man going get victimize speaking out against this bad minded government
  • Real Talk (02/01/2017, 11:16) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    So true .These politicians seems to not realise they are focused on the wrong things .Safety first people
    • Reply (02/01/2017, 20:00) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      This continued deep-seated collective delusion that society is judged by its financial wealth and not the wellbeing of its citizens is the genesis for most of the social, economic and political problems that pervade our beloved BVI
  • BVIslander (02/01/2017, 11:22) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Local lives matters
  • Escalato (02/01/2017, 11:28) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    Sorry McClean it's more important to have an escalade to greet and meet my people. Why you want to bother with so much fire trucks? Crime up in east not fire. It's not so important at all. So go sit down leh wi represent boss. My paycheck is sure you here trying to add more expense. I got somebody looking for your job up east so hush.- Premear
  • west man (02/01/2017, 12:01) Like (16) Dislike (1) Reply
    Where There is no vision ,the BVI People will Suffer...Government can take 7million and give to a Airline that will never run and have these valuable properties close ,its sad ,The NDP just don't care,only for themselves and family..
  • Vg man (02/01/2017, 12:32) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    The big CFO.I like what I'm reading here today.Coming out like this is a start.I agree with all your saying and I do hope the heads see this and take it very seriously!
  • Mr. Snartz (02/01/2017, 13:12) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    another reason why the NDP must be gone!!!! they care nothing about we if they think buying rounds at bars all over the place from carrot bay to east end going work this time we got news for them
  • tola (02/01/2017, 14:57) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Our premier is still sleeping
  • facts man (02/01/2017, 18:32) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    the VIp needs to be taking credit for having stabilised the BVI economy and putting it on a path to growth, however after 2011 everything went south under NDP
  • street reporter. (02/01/2017, 19:46) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    It was tried before and prove to be a waste of time and Money...Money will be better spent getting police to do foot And mobile patrol in the long look East area at nights and mornings.
  • E. Leonard (02/01/2017, 20:14) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    Undoubtedly, the economy may have hit the doldrums. This coupled with a myriad of needs and insufficient resources to service all needs requires prioritizing the allocation of scarce resources. Nonetheless, public safety, i.e., police, national security, fire.........etc. must be a top priority. Fire services/emergency services must be in place to respond quickly to protect life and property. It is a public health and safety risk for a large populated area such as East End and Long Look or other areas to be without an operating fire pumper. Fire prevention is always better than the best fire fighting. Nevertheless, when a fire occurs, minutes matter. The sooner a fire crew can get to the scene of a fire the higher the probability for saving lifes, preventing and minimizing injuries and minimizing property damages.

    Additionally, the closer a fire station and functional equipment is within a maximum radius the lower generally property insurance may be. Further, fire equipment has definite lifecycles. They are planned, programmed, budgeted for, procured, maintained, repaired, rehabilitated, disposed of and replaced. To attain or approach the design life, an aggressive maintenance and repair programme must be put in place. To avoid gaps in critical equipment availability, budgeting should be provided to procure new and cutting edge equipment well before the end of the design life. Procuring and getting a new fire equipment to the BVI is a long lead time/process item. As such, the planning must be executed to get the equipment on island quickly, smoothly and efficiently. Getting new equipment on island to replace old equipment should be a seamless operation.
    • Diaspora (04/01/2017, 09:52) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      @E. Leonard, real talk. The big question is what is government priority. Is it life, health, property, economy, infrastructure, self interest.........etc? Should not public safety be one of its top priority? If so it has a perculiar way of showing it. Public health and safety must be of utmost importance and proactively addressed. Currently, it seems to be an after thought and reactively addressed. How can the VI have a thriving tourism industry with a poorly managed and under-resourced public safety programme(s). We can do better and must do better. The priority given to the fire services is a joke. Too much is left to chance. It is if the powers that may have the warped believe that it is more economical to let property burn than to adequately fund the fire services. The current deplorable state of the fire services is shameful and embarrassing. The Chief may have to sugar coat the condition for fear of victimization but the let's call a spade a space. Under whose ministry does the fire services fall again?
  • Hmmmm (02/01/2017, 20:45) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Some affluent society we living in all right!
  • Concerned (03/01/2017, 08:29) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    East End fire station being used for a private garage??? Why not volunteer departments in these areas like in the States? Vt, NY, NH, ME, PA, and others all have volunteer department's. They work great!!!
  • JACK BE STILL (04/01/2017, 19:39) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is bluntly unfair to the BVI people,

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