The island’s top firefighter has taken his officers to task for what he says is a subtle defiance of authority and a callous disregard for the principles and culture that shaped the department.

Addressing the Chief Fire Officer’s Parade And Awards Ceremony at the Arch Hall Fire Station in St Thomas this afternoon, Wilfred Marshall told his charges that the impact of austerity measures and the call to do more with less in the face of increasing customer demands were not a valid enough reason to marginalize the profession, which offered the great call to public service.

“I am well aware of the sacrifice which is made on a daily basis to ensure operational responsiveness, but if it is only done for monetary gains, it creates a premise for indifference and shallow thinking about what we do as an organization and why we do it,” Marshall declared.

“In the face of this malady,” the Chief Fire Officer added: “There is still a subtle defiance of authority and a callous disregard for the principles and culture which have made this Fire Service what it is today.”

He said that some found it onerous to make simple decisions, yet others allowed the tools of development and productivity to “leach into a tavern of complacency and inappropriateness”.

“This,” Marshall suggested, “is not a cry for hopelessness, but a call to self-audit, a call to examine the bigger picture and to stake your claim in helping this service to achieve its mission and vision.”

“In other words,” he continiued, “I want all fire officers to claim ownership of the Barbados Fire Service. Not only to see it as a place of work, but to see it as a brotherhood, a customer centre and a repository of skilled, committed and professional men and women.”

He said there were times when some officers would look at the horizon and conclude that it offered little hope for them.

The fire chief advised them that success was built on persistence and triumph on patience.

“While I speak to this reality with some feeling of fear or alarm, I remain optimistic that this generation of fire officers will work assiduously to ensure that the confidence of the public of Barbados in this Fire Service is always justified,” Marshall asserted.

Meanwhile, the chief today announced that while the number of fire calls was up 17.2 per cent, there had been an almost ten per cent drop in private dwellings damaged by fire this year. He said the total number of house fires stood at 58, representing only four per cent of the overall figure.

Marshall also noted that the largest contributor to fires in Barbados for the year was grass, which accounted for 80 per cent of the total. (EJ) 

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