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Wednesday 20 November 2019
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More than 170 weekend fire calls

More than 170 bush fires were reported on Saturday last, according to the head of the Fire Service Association, Leo Ramkissoon.

He explained yesterday that the onslaught of calls made it difficult to respond to all the calls at the same time. His statement came in response to criticism levelled against the Fire Service after two homes were lost on Saturday in a bush fire.

One of the houses razed included that of Sallyman Jaggernauth and her two sisters, who lived on Layan Hill, Belmont. Jaggernauth told Newsday yesterday that they are in the process of getting assistance from Government offices as well as friends and relatives.

In a conversation with Newsday yesterday, Ramkissoon revealed that he made enquiries into the performance records of the firemen over the weekend.

“There were more than 40 calls during the day, and 133 during Saturday night,” Ramkissoon said.

The association head explained that when fire officers are responding to a bush fire and a house fire is reported, fire officers will give the house fire greater attention. However, getting back equipment to move to another location in itself would account for a loss in time. This loss in time would attribute to slow response times overall.

“We regret what happened to the Jaggernauth family,” an apologetic Ramkissoon said, “The fire officers did their best from my information, but I always believe that the customer, or in this case the citizen, always has the final say. We just have to take stock of what could have been done better, to ensure the public’s safety”

Ramkissoon reiterated earlier concerns, for example, the need for more fire fighting vehicles, as time goes by without rainfall. He called on the Ministry of National Security for assistance.

“As the days go by, and we have no rain, the vegetation becomes more and more suitable for bush fires,” said the association head. “We need more intervention from the Ministry of National Security, by way of more fire trucks. We know it would not happen overnight, but the fact remains that it is very much needed,”

Ramkissoon continued, saying during the inferno on Saturday the fire fighting apparatus at Four Roads Fire Station could not be operated because it had problems with its brakes, and the station in San Juan, did not have a fire truck.

Ramkissoon concluded, saying good house keeping practices are the best way to protect a home from bush fires.

“A fire needs three things: air, fuel, and heat. Because we cannot get rid of the heat of the dry season, and air is everywhere the best thing to do to protect a home is to make sure that your area has no fuel, which is the dry leaves twigs and bush in your area,” Ramkissoon advised.

A release sent by the Ministry of National Security said there would be a conference today, at 11.am at Knowsley Building, Queen’s Park South, Port-of-Spain.

Speakers at the conference include Minister of National Security, Senator the Honourable Brigadier General Carl Alfonso; Minister of State in the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Senator the Honourable Ramona Ramdial; Executive Director of the National Operations Centre (NOC), Commander Garvin Heerah; Acting Chief Fire Officer, Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service (TTFS), Roosevelt Bruce, as well as other representatives of both Ministries.

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