T&T has a fire truck problem

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T&T has a fire truck problem

Unread post by bimjim » Wed Mar 27, 2019

https://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/lo ... db240.html

T&T has a fire truck problem
Sandhya Santoo
Mar 26, 2019

At least half the fire trucks in Trinidad and Tobago are broken down and off the road and the cash-strapped T&T Fire Service is making do with what it has available.

Newly-appointed acting Chief Fire Officer Kenny Gopaul, who took over from acting CFO Roosevelt Bruce, said on Monday that it is a costly venture to have the appliances serviced and repaired, and the Fire Service has to prioritise where money is being allocated.

According to Gopaul, there are 50 working fire appliances among the fleet of about 100.

The Fire Service has 24 fire stations in four divisions—the Northern Division, the largest, has 11 fire stations; Central Division has four fire stations; Southern Division has six; and in Tobago there are three fire stations.

Gopaul said a significant number of repairs have to be done due to “carelessness” of fire officers when using the trucks.

He gave two examples where fire officers were irresponsible in handling the equipment.

“We have a number of fire trucks which are down due to carelessness. We had a man parking a brand-new $4 million truck and bounced a post and crashed the truck. We had another going on a water delivery on Christmas Day and run across the road and into a church.

“We are playing the fool, so when you hear the Fire Service Association saying there is lack of repairs and maintenance, it’s not five dollars for a fire truck, it’s millions. The one that hit the post, that was in Mayaro. You (the driver) bounce to the extent that you write off a truck and it is now costing us over $250,000 to repair,” he said.

Gopaul said there are at least three fire stations without a fire appliance.

However, he said that it does not mean that station is without a service to respond to calls when necessary, as it is covered by other nearby fire stations.

The Woodbrook, Santa Cruz, Belmont, Arima, Chaguaramas and Morvant stations are among those without a fire appliance, said Fire Service Association president Leo Ramkissoon. He said there are other stations with defective trucks which can hamper response time.

He said the current issues the Fire Service is facing include defective equipment; limited access to fuel for trucks in the Northern Division; shortage of equipment; and shortage of manpower.

“The Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Finance seem to be experiencing problems to release the allocated funds for recurrent expenditure, as well as to effect repairs and maintenance of vehicles and fire stations,” he said.

Ramkissoon said since last week, there has been no fuel across the Northern Division for the fire trucks.

“So we have a remainder of fuel stored at Piarco Fire Station, so all the trucks from Sangre Grande to Chaguaramas...you have to proceed to Piarco for fuel.”

He said each fire station has its own storage tanks for fuel to replenish when necessary, and said he was informed that the lack of fuel was due to Unipet withholding it due to unpaid bills.

Ramkissoon said: “This is because the Fire Service is unable to pay the diesel bill from Unipet. We had a contract with NP (National Petroleum) and that contract has now been lost and we have now gone to Unipet as of this year.

“And I am told the Fire Service is owing Unipet over $500,000 for fuel and therefore Unipet is refusing fuel until that bill is paid.”

A senior Fire Service official confirmed that this was an issue the service is dealing with, and is awaiting the release of funds from the Ministry.

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