Audit suggests 30 new firefighters needed for airport
An audit suggested that as many as 30 additional firefighters might be needed for the airport, the national security minister has said.
The Government announced on Friday that 10 overseas firefighters would be hired to bolster numbers at the LF Wade International Airport and ensure enough certified aircraft rescue firefighters are in place to meet requirements in the event of an emergency
Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, said in a video posted on Twitter this morning that two audits had been carried out to determine the need for firefighters.
He said the first audit was carried out in February, while a second was only recently completed.
“The first audit had suggested that we need up to 30 or so extra firefighters for the airport,” Mr Weeks said.
“What the Government has decided was to get a second opinion from an overseas expert, another auditor if you may, and, and they are here as we speak.
“The audit is complete. The findings have not been made public because he has literally just completed it, so in the next few days we will have the results of what this second opinion is.
“That was definitely to look at the numbers and need for how many firefighters will be needed at the airport on a daily basis.”
Mr Weeks told the Bermuda Broadcasting Company that the overseas firefighters will cost the Government about $436,000 for three months.
It is understood that the overseas firefighters have already arrived on the island from Canada and are expected to have their first shift today.
Firefighters have complained about lack of resources available to meet international airport requirements as well as their ability to meet local demand.
Mr Weeks said in the House of Assembly that since 1995 the accepted minimum duty strength at the airport had required three crews of five firefighters, which had enabled the airport to provide a response category rating of 9.
A rating of 9 is required for large commercial jets including British Airways’ Boeing 777 aircraft to fly to Bermuda.
However, the February audit increased the minimum required duty strength from five firefighters per crew to 14.
“In the interim, meetings with the stakeholders including airlines have resulted in agreement for an interim variable Category 5 to Category 7 response for the airport with British Airways continuing to provide service with the Category 7 rating,” he said.
“In order to meet the Category 7 rating, the Bermuda Fire Rescue Service have to provide eight certified aircraft rescue firefighters per crew as well as have a firefighting vehicle positioned adjacent to the runway for each arrival and departure.
“To meet this requirement, existing firefighters have been required to work significant extra shifts and overtime hours. This is unsustainable.”
In addition to ten overseas firefighters, who are expected to arrive on island this month and stay for three months, a local recruitment campaign has been launched to find another 11 firefighters.