The Saint Lucia Fire and Emergency Services was on Friday, October 22, 2021 graced with an official visit by Honourable Dr. Virginia Albert- Poyotte, the Minister for Home Affairs. The minister led a delegation which included the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs Mrs Elizabeth Bailey, Deputy Permanent Secretary Mr Ricky Quinlan and Chief Fire Officer Mr Joseph Joseph.
The Minister indicated that though she was quite pleased with the overall visit which proved enlightening on many fronts, she certainly saw room for improvement in certain areas. She noted that improvements in working conditions at the Manoel Street head office is under consideration; and some areas such as upgrading of furniture, should be addressed in the short term.
“Government is also giving some consideration to improving the work environment for our fire officers. In the same spirit I want to congratulate the fire officers for having done a great job in combatting Covid. They have really responded in a timely manner and they have saved many lives in Saint Lucia. And if there is anything government can do for them; it is to give them a facility where they can work and give very efficient, effective and high quality service.”
The Fire Service is currently in need of a serious injection of more officers, especially as it confronts the increased demands of dealing with the Covid – 19 pandemic. The minister was pleased to note that the Chief Fire Officer, Mr Joseph Joseph disclosed that the recruitment process is at an advanced stage.
“I had a discussion with the Fire Chief and his main concern was shortage of staff. Right now they have a shortage of forty members of staff which is huge for a Fire Service that would have a staff of 351personnel. The prime minister has made a commitment that he will address that. So they have completed the exercise and that has been submitted to the Public Service Commission and the Public Service.”
Another very important and long-standing taking point raised with the delegation by the Fire Chief was a new location for the Fire Service. Over the past decade the Department’s many challenges, including most notably issues of flooding given its proximity to the Castries River, and storms during the Atlantic Hurricane Season have been well documented.
Minister Dr. Virginia Albert Poyotte says she is committed to continuing her familiarization tour to cover the Police and outstations for both Fire Service and Police in the coming weeks and months. The Department of Probation and Parole is also down to receive a courtesy call from the minister in the near future.
The minister says she wants to know each Department under her portfolio as this is a necessary process in building relationships and providing sound leadership to very critical areas of national development.