The two most recent devastating fires in the parish of St. George should awake the powers-that-be to come to the realisation that the Fire Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) needs more fire-fighting tools and equipment to do an effective job in fighting fires in the country.
It is one thing for politicians to boast about progress and development under their watch but that can be destroyed within a matter of minutes especially in the city given its terrain and a Fire Department that is badly lacking in terms of financial resources.
The harsh reality of the situation was underscored on Wednesday at a police press conference by Head of the Fire Department on the Carenage, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Glenroy Corion.
The Fire Chief lamented the lack of adequate and sufficient fire tenders to deal with the type of fires that ran through the four buildings on Grenville Street last week Thursday and the other serious fire on Williamson Road two days later.
Asp Corion also admitted that there was a shortage of water hydrants in the immediate vicinity of the city to deal with fires.
This falls within the domain of the state-run National Water & Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) of Christopher “Beef” Husbands and Minister of Public Utilities, Gregory Bowen.
RGPF will also have to review its own operational system to combat fires not only in the city but elsewhere on the island.
It is not acceptable that some 46 years after independence that the Fire Department has to consistently wait on a crew to arrive from GRENLEC to remove power from a building on fire to allow firefighters to get into action.
This problem surfaced once again in the Grenville Street fire as the firefighters were on the scene and had to wait for approximately one hour for Grenlec to arrive to disconnect the electricity in the area in order to get into action.
This is too primitive in the modern era of 2020. The Fire Department should have trained personnel within its rank to remove electricity from any building on the island that is engulfed in flames.
And the Police High Command should ensure that these persons remain within the Fire Department on a permanent basis and not be subjected to transfer to other sections of the force to engage in non-fire related activities.
Unfortunately, Commissioner Martin was not able to give any figures about the finances that are allocated to the Fire Department from the 2020 budget set aside by government for the Police Force.
THE NEW TODAY has a feeling that the budget for fire is below par. As ASP Corion indicated much more resources are needed to put our firefighters in a better position to effectively do their jobs.
This newspaper issues a call to the Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Keith Mitchell to allocate a certain percentage of the monies received from the selling of passports under the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programme to the police force including the Fire Department.
Over the years, the Mitchell-led government has not accounted to Grenadians on what precisely it has done with its share of the CBI funds and even the oil.
Our citizens are kept in total darkness and do not know if the CBI funds collected by government are co-mingled in the Consolidated Fund and used from time to time to pay salaries of public officers.
The frightening situation with fire adds to the already bad healthcare system on the island and the road infrastructure that is rapidly collapsing under the NNP watch.
This sad state of affairs also comes at a time when Grenada will be entering the dry season that in recent years was noted for many bush fires.
THE NEW TODAY would also like to make some passing comments on reports that retired civil servant Beryl Isaac who stepped down as Cabinet Secretary less than two weeks ago is now being assigned by the powers-that-be to become the new head of the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Is that the best the government can do? Why are they recycling so many retired public officers into key positions in the service?
It appears that the current government is not attracting “new blood” into its fold and is forced to bring back a number of retirees.
Last week, it was Carlton “Darker” Frederick, a known political activist of the ruling New National Party (NNP) who was brought out of retirement and sent to take charge as head of the Physical Planning Unit (PPU) within the Ministry of Finance of Prime Minister Mitchell.
Mr. Frederick admitted that he did not get a letter of appointment from the PSC to assume duties at the department but did show up for work at its Lagoon Road office.
This is the same Carlton Frederick who left PPU many years ago as its head after he had difficulties with a previous PSC.
And this is also the same individual who is the Treasurer of the ruling party and Executive member of the NNP St. John Constituency branch and receives a monthly rent from government for use of his downstairs building that is rented out to the Electoral Office of the constituency.
When will this sad state of affairs come to an end in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique?