UK authority will review island fire service: Throne Speech
The Government will launch a review of the island’s fire service to determine its fitness for its role.
The Throne Speech, delivered yesterday by Tom Oppenheim, the Deputy Governor, said the Government would approach His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services to conduct a review of the fire service — the first since 2010.
The Government also announced that it would amend the Fire Safety Act 2014 “to clarify that the adoption of the National Fire Protection Agency Codes applies only in relation to premises within the scope of the Act and not to the operation of air crash and fire rescue services”.
The Deputy Governor added: “This will ensure that there is certainty around the appropriate minimum staffing levels and other operations for the LF Wade International Airport.”
The Fire Safety Act states that the provisions of the National Fire Protection Association standards and codes of practice “have the force of law in Bermuda”. However, the Minister of National Security can issue supplementary fire safety codes.
The announcement comes after firefighters repeatedly raised concerns about understaffing within the service, a phenomenon worsened earlier this year after an audit found that more firefighters were required to man the airport division.
While the airport had previously operated with three crews of five firefighters, the February audit found that a minimum of 14 firefighters were needed in each crew to maintain the airport’s emergency response category.
In July Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, said a second audit on the need for overseas firefighters had been completed, but the results have yet to be released.
While the Government announced it would hire and train 11 new Bermudian firefighters this year, Mr Weeks said overseas firefighters would likely be needed for “at least” another year as new recruits are trained.
Ten Canadian firefighters to the island in July under 90-day contracts, and it was later announced that another 25 firefighters would be contracted to support the airport fire service from October to March 2023.
In September, members of the Bermuda Fire Service Association said they were at their boiling point over the staffing issues within the service.