Today, the National Fire Service of Belize officially moved out of its headquarters on Cleghorne Street in Belize City. At the start of the year, the government had been given an extension by Atlantic Bank Limited after the bank bought the property during the Barrow administration. On Saturday that extension came to an end prompting the department to pack up and leave. Love News caught up with Fire Chief Colin Gillett at their new administration office located on Sunrise Avenue, to see how the department has been settling in.
Colin Gillett, Fire Chief, Belize National Fire Service: “For the last year or so we’ve been playing with different ideas of where we’re going to go, can we buy a building, can we build a building. So we finally worked with the Sports Council they gave us space at the bottom of the left hand side of the Marion Jones complex and we’re very grateful because the space is adequate for that of the storage and the fire fighters that we have over there. It gives them access to physical activity, space where they can actually go and run the steps and get more exercise in. This place was part of an original plan to come but because of different ideas and maybe we can try something else we finally got here, we still came back to the original idea to temporarily be housed here and Cabinet has approved that we’re gonna build a new building on Chetumal Street in the near future. So we’re hopeful within a year and a half or two we should be in another space which will be much nicer.”
Gillett also commented that they have now split their services between two locations and says the move is very manageable.
Colin Gillett, Fire Chief, Belize National Fire Service: “The separation between operations and administration is quite possible because when the bell rings the firemen know exactly what to do so operation wise the trucks will still take off, they will still go and do their job and we just do ours here; a lot of paperwork, managing, vacation leave, planning for the future. And what we’re trying to do is keep this separation because we want to have smaller stations in more strategic areas as opposed to them being under one roof. So now if you think about it we will not have a station on Dolphin Street south side, we have one on Marion Jones in north side, when the new building is built we will keep a fire truck there with some firemen on Chetumal Street so that will cover going up in Belama area. By doing this we can now start to triangulate and attack fires from a more strategic way. That way if we need more trucks then they will come from the other two stations, if we don’t then that station itself can handle it. It’s the same thing we want to do in all the other districts. If you think about Corozal district, Orange Walk, PG they only have one station for the entire district that’s why we’re very happy that Cabinet was able to approve the construction of another station in Orange Walk which we hope will be in the Trial Farm area that way it will give us enough space between where the old station is and the new one and we don’t have to travel that far just to get to one fire closer to Trial Farm area. So in terms of the actual moving and separation between admin and operations we don’t actually have to be together for us to get the work done. We are in the process of creating a database which they’ll have access to and we can feed back and forth information that we don’t actually need to physically be there with them.”
Gillett noted that their relocation should not have any effect on their response time that has improved over the past year.