In a move that some may speculate as jumping from the frying pan into the fire, Nemo’s former Deputy National Emergency Coordinator, Colin Gillett, has been named National Fire Chief. Love News got an extended interview with Gillett today, but first we spoke to Deputy Prime Minister, Patrick Faber, about the appointment, since Gillett is a rookie where fires are concerned.
Hon.Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister of Belize: “I don’t know if any of our former fire chiefs when they get to a position like that have that kind of credential other than experience in the fire service itself. But we have not been the kind of society that invests in the higher-level training of our officers in this respect, in fact, we just recently saw a police chief who is for the first time an attorney. So I think what needs to happen and I’m pretty sure that people would agree with this is that in the fire service that you need somebody who can administrate, who can bring things together to see a successful fire fighting entity in this country in its many branches, we’ve not been doing the best job at that and so getting a good qualified person when I say qualified I don’t necessarily mean in the techniques of fighting fire although that can come, we do need a good , qualified person to bring all those pieces together and to fill the gaps where we’ve not seen that happening over the many many years.”
Gillett has knowledge about the criticism that his new position has received and has a response for it.
Colin Gillette, National Fire Chief: “I know a lot of people say I’m not a firefighter, that’s fine I don’t need to be a firefighter to understand what their needs are and to find a way to get it to them. As a manager my job is also to create the environment so that they can do their jobs better not just provide trucks or resources but training, I need to build their capacity I need to understand their issues and find ways to help them. My plans for the future is to make sure that the people who need to move up to get their proper standing will be able to do so- so they’ll get their certification, they’ll be able to move up to a new post and that way we have space with the firefighters at the bottom who can now move up to where they belong. Continuous training is key to what we’re looking at, training in fire inspection, fire safety but we also want to move into EMTs we want all our firefighters to be certified as EMTs because the focus or one of the priority areas is for us to start to have an EMT unit in each station so that we can deal with road traffic accidents and different issues for the public. There are only certain places in the Belize district where the ambulance will go, we want to be able to change that an increase the scope where we can help the public if they need to get in an ambulance to go to the hospital. Right now we’re working from all the stations that we visited we know that a lot of the trucks that we have the engines are a little outdated and older and so they need constant fixing. These trucks are specialized trucks so we don’t have the parts here onhand so our mechanics do a lot of work in fixing that. What my focus is on right now is to look at getting better trucks, so if until we can get the best trucks, the best trucks cost half a million dollars do we have half a million dollars? No, so it’s better for us now to look at getting better trucks than what we have until we can get to the point where all the older ones that we can’t service anymore are retired.”
Fire Chief Gillett also had some key words for the public on fire prevention and fire safety.
Colin Gillette, National Fire Chief: “Fire safety is fire prevention so the more things that we can do to prevent the fire the less we’ll need to bring out the trucks. So the public, we want the public to start to do their part. Learn about smoke alarms, invest in a small fire extinguisher for your house. If you live next to an overgrown yard cut around your house, put a space between you and the bush so that it doesn’t threaten your house as much, if you hear the fire truck coming get out the way. Right now there are two buses out there that are causing a thing around the roundabout around lunchtime so what if we are looking at scenarios now what if there was a fire at Palotti how are we going to get from here to there. So if people don’t really respect the sirens so it starts from that point.”