‘I am publicly putting the Fire Service on warning’

- Pres. Ali disappointed in response to Brickdam fire


The Guyana Fire Service is coming in for heavy criticism from President Irfaan Ali following the massive Brickdam Police Station fire which destroyed over 80 per cent of the station. The Head of State visited the scene on Sunday morning along with Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn and other government officials.

“I am publicly putting the fire service on [warning]… this cannot and will not be tolerated,” President Ali said following the Fire Service’s response to the fire.

According to the President, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent in the last year to boost the fire service’s response and “to put it crudely, you cannot respond to a fire in your backyard.”

President Ali, Commissioner of Police Nigel Hoppie and Minister Robeson Benn (Photo: Office of the President)

President Ali firmly stated that the government cannot continue to make investments in the public service and not have returns. He said the inefficiency has to be weeded out. The response by the fire service to the Brickdam fire on Saturday had nothing to do with assets and resources but the unpreparedness by the service, President Ali explained.

“Based on the type of calls I received…they were unable to take because of their state of readiness.

“I want to assure the public that I have heard them and we are going to examine the response from the Fire Service in its totality,” the President said.

The President went as far as to say if persons don’t want to work for the public sector, then they should do the honourable thing and resign.

“Don’t take a job in the Fire Department and believe it is a part time job; don’t take the government assets, safety gear and leave it home when you are an emergency worker.”

The aftermath of the fire

Other high ranking government officials who were at the fire scene on Saturday also heavily criticised the response of the fire service.

Additionally, President Ali revealed that the government will seek international support to determine what is really happening with the fire service.

In the meantime, the President has assured his support in assisting the Police Force to continue to execute its duties.

“This morning, I want to personally thank the ranks for their continued commitment for the work that they will continue to do out of this location. The Minister and his team, we have already committed to the team resources,” President Ali said.

The President also tasked the Police Force to seek other temporary but permanent solutions; these include looking at the reconfiguration of containers to use as offices in the meantime.

Some police services have been relocated temporarily to St Stanislaus College.

The fire which started just after 11:00hrs on Saturday destroyed over 80 per cent of the building, some of which were more than 100 years old. Engineers have already begun look at designs to rebuild the station, Minister Benn revealed during a briefing on Saturday.

The Fire Service was supported by four water tenders from the Central Fire Station, along with five others from the Alberttown, West Ruimveldt, Diamond, Campbellville, and Melanie Fire Stations.

By the time the fire was under control, the majority of the buildings were already destroyed. The station’s lockups, barracks and Impact Base were the only buildings left standing after the huge fire.

A few police vehicles and several privately owned vehicles which were detained as part of investigations were also destroyed.

The Police Force stated that while all prisoners were relocated safely, a few police ranks sustained minor injuries while trying to save important records, equipment, furniture and arms and ammunition.
A business place located behind the station was also damaged as a result of the fire.

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