Sunday, May 30, 2010

Applewhaite Retires From Fire Service

After more than 36 years of dedicated service to the Fire and Rescue profession acting Station Officer Trevor Applewhaite recently retired from the Fire Service.

The Administration of the Barbados Fire Service held a luncheon in honour of Officer Applewhaite on Friday afternoon at Fire Service Headquarters, where friends and co-workers gathered to bid him a fond farewell.

Applewhaite enlisted in the Service in 1973 and was promoted to Leading Fire Officer in 1993 then Sub Officer in 2003 before taking up duties as acting Station Officer.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Fire Chief To Work On Three-Point Plan

A regional disaster mechanism, a regional training college and increased customer service are what new Chief Fire Officer Wilfred Marshall will be working towards.

Marshall made these revelations on Monday during a media conference at the Barbados Fire Service headquarters in Probyn Street, The City.
“Most of our training is done internationally, and I want to see a situation where we can go to a college which would focus on situations you would find in the Caribbean and not in New York,” he said.

Marshall said he also wanted to see a regional disaster mechanism established for firefighting and rescue, as well as a regional response framework for natural and unnatural events that may go beyond the capacity of the affected country.

“It is my intention to work with the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs and the Caribbean Association of Fire Fighters towards the development of fire officers in this region and the attainment of these goals,” he said.

As for improved customer service, Marshall said his vision was to develop a fire service driven by efficiency, with the outcome measured not only in statistics but also in service excellence.
In addition, he said he wanted to see public sector reform made a part of the future of the service.

“I want the service to be technology-led and in particular to capitalise on the benefits of information technology to provide innovative solutions in areas such as training, communication, record keeping and certainly in my decision making process,” he said.

Marshall identified some pending additions to the service in the form of a new water tanker, which would primarily be used to bring water to areas where they had difficulty sourcing it, and a new crash tanker, which would be stationed at the airport to combat airfield fires. Concerning the airport station, he said personnel were getting ready to move in, “hopefully” this year, as some repairs were still taking place. (CA)


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

‘Fire Service Must Move Forward’

Newly appointed Chief Fire Officer, Wilfred Marshall, says that as the Barbados Fire Service (BFS) moves forward, the department’s strategic plan will be revisited and updated. While outlining a number of areas that will gain particular attention during his tenure, the Chief stated that a burning issue still affecting the BFS is the matter of appointments.

Speaking to the media during a press conference held at the Fire Service’s Probyn Street headquarters yesterday, he said, “As an urgent pressing issue, I want to bring meaningful closure to an outstanding human resource matter which relates to appointments and promotions. I have to commend all those officers in service who have been impacted by this inaction which has the potential to cause a great decline in morale.

“These officers have responded well, but operate in an uncertainty environment which causes them to exercise their daily function among their subordinates with caution as they may have to go back to the substantive rank and work as a peer with the same subordinates.

“I want to have this addressed as soon as possible and have the way paved for the filling of those positions which will bring the numbers of the service back up to its established level.”

The Fire Chief said there could be as much as 50 per cent of the management and supervisory staff are in acting positions. “We have about 32 leading fire officers – just over half of them are in acting positions and our sub-officers are in acting positions ... Our last batch of recruits not yet appointed – about 30 and our non-commissioned officers,” he explained.

He also told the media that a medium- to long-term goal will be to see the development of a regional disaster mechanism for fire fighting and rescue and to create a regional response framework for natural or unnatural events which may go beyond the capacity of the country being affected.

Marshall stated that it is also his wish to see the establishment of a regional training facility with accredited courses which are accepted and standardised throughout the region which he says, will aid in the regional integration process.

“There have been various attempts at this in the past and even in recent times. It was one of the activities being pursued by the Caribbean Association of Fire Fighters. They were looking at establishing one in Trinidad but even at this point it has not materialised,” he lamented.

The Chief, who has 35 years of experience under his belt, said it is important to note that in 2010, there may be a divergence from the norm recognising that the Service is dealing with a different generation of fire fighter.

He stressed emphasis will be placed on service excellence. “At the end of it, whatever we accept, it has to be motivated by excellence in our service delivery. What ever methods we accept in conducting our operations, at the core of it I want the public of Barbados to feel happy and comfortable that when they see a fire officer, if he is in the field performing his role or if we are here doing business they feel happy about the service that we are delivering,” he stated. (JH)


Burning Issue

New fire chief calling for vacancies to be filled

Government's failure to address the issue of appointments in the Barbados Fire Service could lead to a decline in morale in that critical agency.

That is the warning from newly appointed Chief Fire Officer Wilfred Marshall, who said there were 50 vacancies which were being filled by officers acting in those positions.

Marshall, whose appointment was made official last Saturday, was speaking to the media yesterday at the Probyn Street, St Michael headquarters.

He said there were nine positions of leading fire officer; eight sub officers; one station officer; one divisional officer; the post of deputy chief fire officer and 30 fire officer positions still to be substantively filled.

Marshall explained that it was not up to the Fire Service's hierarchy to fill those posts, but it was the responsibility of the Services Commission and the Governor General.

"As an urgent, pressing issue, I want to bring meaningful closure to an outstanding human resource matter which relates to appointments and promotions. I have to commend all those officers in the service who have been impacted by this inaction, which has the potential to cause a great decline in morale.

"These officers have responded well but operate in an environment of uncertainty which causes them to exercise their daily function among their subordinates with caution as they may end up having to return to their substantive ranks and work as peers with those same former subordinates."

Marshall said this could cause the officers not to give of their best, adding his next step would be to approach the Services Commission to ask that decisions be taken.

Randolph Cox is now the acting deputy chief fire officer, after acting in the role of chief fire officer following the retirement of Chesterfield Mayers in October 2008.

Former acting deputy, Lloydson Phillips, has returned to the post of senior divisional officer. However, neither Cox nor Phillips had applied for the job of chief fire officer.

Source: Daily Nation, Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Marshall Appointed Chief Fire Officer

Wilfred DeCourcey Marshall, 56, is Barbados' new Chief Fire Officer. The former station officer's appointment takes effect from today.

Marshall has been in the service for 35 years and has had extensive job-specific training from West Indian and English universities, as well as other academic institutions.

A graduate of the now defunct Federal High School, Marshall has certificates in international disaster management from Bournemouth University, England; in public administration from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, and in executive analysis of fire service operations in emergency management, from the United States' National Fire Academy.

His almost two dozen qualifications include a certificate in occupational safety and health from the Barbados Community College; a certificate in mass casualty management from the Pan American Health Organisation, and a certificate in general management from the Training Administration Division/Barbados Institute of Management and Productivity.

Marshall, who is married with three children, was awarded the Barbados Service Medal in 1991 and 2006. (BGIS)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Social Networking Success For Local Fire Fighters

Barbadian fire fighters are effectively harnessing the power of social networking sites to share problems, ideas and expertise in an attempt to increase productivity and raise awareness. In a interview with the Barbados Advocate, Fire Officer Glyne Alleyne outlined the need to move with the times and implement popular technology to connect with the Barbadian population.

“The fire department came on the Internet officially around 1998, at that time a website was created for the department that pretty much sought to address what we do and who we were, but unfortunately no provisions were made on that site for the social interaction of fire fighters here in Barbados and with our international counterparts, hence the reasons why I created the social network that we have now, which comprises of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, U Stream and podcasts.

“What I have recently found happening is that the public is so very keen on learning about the inner workings of our departments that we started to receive requests from them to join, as originally it was exclusively for fire officers on the network. We acceded to their requests and since then we have been growing exponentially. As of this morning, there are more than 1 400 people on our Facebook page and the other networks are growing as well.”

Whilst Alleyne noted that traditionally public sector organisations may have been reluctant to let the people see behind the curtain of their organisations, he suggested that this move towards a more transparent and joined-up approach is imperative to building solid relations with the community and fostering trust in their practices.

“I am very pleased and the actual feedback that is coming to us from them shows that they to are very pleased that we have taken this leap to put out information online, because for a long time the civil service was seen to be very secretive and the lack of information online and available to the public used to pose a problem, but now public can now interact one-on-one with fire officers and learn about what we do and can also get other information regarding the profession.

“Recently, we have noticed that some persons who are actually seeking careers also asking questions are interacting and trying to learn as much as possible about what the job entitles before they sign up to become a fire officer.”

Alleyne also highlighted that through embracing technology, bridges have been built with harder-to-reach groups, as more interaction has been fostered between young people and women.

Hoping that the demographics of the fire service will be opened up further and, in turn, become more representative through the continual growth of their social networking sites, he said, “What I have also noticed to that there has been a increase in interest from both young people and women. Given the fact that social networking appeals to younger people, we a have seen a growth of persons requesting to join between the ages of twenty to thirty five and the majority of these are women and to me that is very exciting and will better reflect Barbadian society.” (KA)


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Mom is such a special word, The loveliest I've ever heard.
A toast to you, above all the rest, Mom you're so special,
You are simply the best... Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Call To Serve

Bayne and Holligan share their stories on World Firefighters Day

The drive to save lives.
That was what propelled junior officer Damian Bayne and acting sub-officer Charles Holligan to a career in the Barbados Fire Service. With more than three decades in the service between them, the two recounted their experiences in the paramilitary organisation on Tuesday at the Probyn Street headquarters in the City where celebrations for World Firefighters Day were in progress.

Holligan’s career spanned 29 years, and although there were countless memories that came along the way, one stands out clearest: the 2007 Arch Cot tragedy. He was the first fire officer on the scene that Sunday morning and nearly encountered a perilous situation of his own.

“When we arrived that Sunday morning, we could hear the conversation with [Donavere Codrington] and a guy on the western side of it,” the 53-year-old officer recounted.
“We got close to them, and as we got closer to the cave, we were standing on a rock. The guy on the western end asked us to move ... and we did exactly that. About 10 seconds after, that same rock we were standing on fell in...”

Despite the experience, Holligan stayed on for the duration of the exercise, even offering counselling for some of his colleagues. His interest in the service was born out of conversations with a former fireman, now deceased, who was courting his neighbour when he was between eight and nine years old.

After his successful application at 24 years old, he was stationed at the St. John fire station, in Four Roads. He has also served at the airport, St. James and Arch Hall stations and has been at headquarters since 2006.

Much has changed since Holligan’s entry into the service, including the stipulation of academic qualifications in order to apply. He was of the opinion that this made the younger recruits harder to train. “The youngsters don’t want to perform and feel they should be a supervisor and not just a worker, but there are some you can speak to and they would make the change,” he said.

And certainly Bayne is one of the young men who exhibited the willingness to listen and learn from his superiors. The 26-year-old is approaching his fifth year in the service, and has his eyes set on moving up the ranks. “If given the opportunity, I would like to advance my career as far as fire fighting is concerned,” he said.

He is currently enrolled in an online fire-fighting course, with hopes that he would make his way up the ranks while making a positive contribution to his community. Like Holligan, his helpful nature ignited his interest in fire-fighting.

“I like to help people, so I decided that this may be the best avenue for me to give back to the community.” The former St. Michael School student was first stationed at Probyn Street as part of the driving staff after a successful application and three months of basic fire service training. He then moved on to the St. John station before returning to headquarters.

“Being a part of the driving staff is an exciting thing for me. Although I have not been to anything critical, I still enjoy it,” he said. (LW)


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Marking International Fire Fighters’ Day

In recognition of the sacrifices made by fire fighters across the globe, officers from the Barbados fire service, came together yesterday to celebrate International Fire fighters’ day, by holding an open day at their Probyn Street Headquarters.

Initially inaugurated in 1999, the day was conceptualised to honour fire officers both past and present, whilst remembering, recognising and thanking them for their dedication in saving lives and protecting Property. Speaking to his fellow colleagues, Fire officer and masters of Ceremonies Glyne Alleyne called on them all to recognise the importance of partnering with the community in order to achieve effective and timely results in their work.

“Fire fighters’ day is recognised around the world and on this day we pay tribute to the fire officer, and we give thanks to those who have gone before us and to those who are now serving in the department. Where the public is concerned we actually embrace them and are thankful for their continued support around what we do. We cannot go forward and we cannot progress without that vital role that the public plays within our department. Consulting with us, making suggestions recommendations, seeking us out for knowledge and information. We are here for that and I am glad to say that based on my observations that more persons are coming forward and are trying to obtain information on fire safety and prevention, and I can say without doubt that the response so far has been good”.

The open day also gave the officers further opportunities to both communicate with members of public through a live pod casting session, which worked to provide communities with further insights into both the sacrifices made, and the difficulties encountered by fire fighters on a tour of duty. Suggesting that transparency further increases public confidence in their abilities Alleyne said:

“There are plenty of people out there who are extremely thankful for what we do on a daily basis and there are many people out there who may not get the opportunity to formally thank us but based on what I am seeing on our social network sites, there are plenty of people out there who appreciate us and the tremendous sacrifice that we make sometimes in respect of saving lives and property”.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

International Fire Fighters' Day (IFFD)

Today, May 4th is the Feast Day of St Florian, the Patron Saint of Firefighters. It is also International Fire Fighters' Day (IFFD).

As we mark this year’s IFFD, let us pay tribute to our firefighters worldwide who brave the dangers in order to save life and property. Let us also remember and offer prayers for those who perished while performing their duty. Let us also remember those who went before us, dedicating their lives through volunteering or work to not only battling fire but also to educating and mentoring the firefighters who followed.

IFFD is a day we can promote fire awareness, we can promote firefighting as a volunteering or career choice and one on which we can show our support of firefighters by wearing the IFFD symbol (blue and red ribbons pinned together) on our lapels, on our car aerials, in our windows, and more. (Red & blue represent the colours of the elements firefighters deal with on a daily basis - fire and water)

It is a day when people across the globe unite to pay respect and support for firefighters. A “Sound Off” has become a traditional feature of the celebration - fire stations set off their sirens at noon (local time) for a 30-second tribute. This is followed by a moment of silence to pay respects for all firefighters who perished in the line of duty. The "Sound Off" can occur either on IFFD or the first Sunday of May.

Take a moment today to thank a firefighter and remember the dangers they make and sacrifices they risk on our behalf, and to pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Lt. JJ Edmondson

Sunday, May 2, 2010

International Fire Fighters' Day 2010

International Fire Fighters’ Day (IFFD) will be held on Tuesday, 4th May, and for the second time in our history the members of the Barbados Fire Service plan to observe and celebrate this special day. In recognition of this auspicious occasion a number of events are planned.

10:00 a.m. Open Day: All Fire Stations – except the Airport Fire Station.

10:00 a.m. Prayer Service: Official start at Fire Service Headquarters.

10:30 a.m. Commence live webcast via the internet & podcast show.

12:00 noon Sound Off: Wailing of sirens for 30 seconds followed by one minute of silence.

01:00 p.m. Interviews with fire service personnel... audio podcast show.

04:00 p.m. Official end of day's events.

We invite you to join with us is celebrating this auspicious occasion by visiting your nearest fire station or by sending greetings and shout outs. Take a few minutes on Tuesday to stop and thank a firefighter. If you're a firefighter take time to thank a fellow firefighter, one or more of your mentors (perhaps they have retired or moved on from your fire organization).