Fire Service facing ‘challenging’ circumstances – Benn
-middle management not performing
By Sharda Bacchus
Even with enhanced physical infrastructure and the acquisition of specialised assets, Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn said the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) is currently experiencing ‘challenging’ circumstances.
And having found that the setbacks are due to the non-performance of middle management, emphasis is being placed on training and educating the sub-officers to ensure that firefighters are disciplined and prepared to respond to fires.
In order to achieve this, the GFS is hosting its first annual sub-officers conference which will provide sub-officers stationed across the country with the opportunity to engage in discussions, geared at improving their performance to efficiently protect lives and properties from destruction by fire.
“While we speak of the expansion of physical infrastructure and mobile assets of the Guyana Fire Service, particularly specialised assets and even while we contemplate having more and more of those assets…we are in challenging circumstances,” Benn said as he addressed the opening of the conference being held at the GFS Headquarters, Homestretch Avenue, Georgetown.
The first of these challenges, Benn said is ensuring there is the “appropriate” spread of assets and facilities in relation to the mission of the GFS and getting in line with country’s ongoing development.
“We have to have initiatives…We have to be able to go beyond the concepts of the ‘to do list’ and get those done in a timely manner,” Benn told senior officers.
He added, “The most important thing is leadership, initiative and the quality of the delivery of service in relation to engagement when you are called into action. How well are we prepared? Are our pumps working? How do we respond to complaints of arriving late? The question of whether we are accused of now having water in the tankers?”
According to Benn, the Fire Service is not performing at the best optimum level.
“We cannot appear to be afraid. We have to pay attention to the quality, the quantity and the type of protective equipment for the firefighters. We must insist that they wear it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Fire Chief (ag), Gregory Wickham said the conference was designed the bridge the gap that currently exists between senior management and junior staff of the GFS.
“We have heard rumbling that the breakages, the setbacks and…some of the failures for the department not moving forward as it ought to be because the middle management is not performing,” Wickham said.
Over the past year, Wickham said the management of the fire service has been working on education and discipline, which falls directly into its action plan.
“There should be no question after these two days about the role and responsibility that is given to you, the sub-officers, the people who stands at the center of the organisation…to ensure that younger fire fighters are acquainted with the plans and policies of the administration of the Guyana Fire Service,” he said.
The two day conference is being held under the theme ‘improving performance through education and training.’