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Firefighters and police at the ready despite Covid-19 impact on staffing

Renee Ming, the Minister of National Security (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The fire service can handle major emergencies despite staff shortages, the national security minister said yesterday.

Renée Ming praised firefighters and said that Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service’s departments were fully operational, although fire prevention specialists had moved to remote working.

She said: “First and foremost, I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the dedication and commitment of each member of the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service.

“From the officers who work on the front lines protecting our citizens during life threatening situations, to the administrative staff who assist in receiving the emergency calls. We appreciate them all.”

Ms Ming added: “As the Head of the Public Service Dr Derrick Binns indicated last week, Bermuda is currently in the midst of a very rapid and serious outbreak of the coronavirus and it’s having an impact on staffing resources in the public sector.

“Currently, many government departments have instituted a mix of in office, rotational and remote working.

“Government departments have also implemented virtual and online services to allow them to continue to provide services to the public.”

Ms Ming admitted: “Like other Government departments, the BF&RS has been impacted by staff shortages.

“However as an essential service, the public can be assured that the BF&RS has done an admirable job in maintaining service levels.

“More importantly the community can feel confident that we are able to manage major emergency incidents during this difficult time.”

Ms Ming said that the fire service had confirmed its operations division and dispatch centre were at full readiness.

Hamilton Fire Station’s customer service section is also open, as well as the fleet garage and maintenance division.

The fire prevention unit – which includes building inspections, plan examinations and fire certificates – is open “but working remotely and virtual inspections”.

Ms Ming said: “During Bermuda’s management of the pandemic, I have made it a point to thank all of our uniformed services – this includes the BF&RS and I intend to convey this to the Fire Service Association when we next meet.”

She added: “We are grateful to those public servants and all our essential workers, including our officers at the BF&RS who are working around the clock to help keep our country safe.

She was speaking after the Bermuda Police Service said this week that there had been an increase in the number of officers and police staff who had been forced to quarantine under coronavirus rules.

Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Na’imah Astwood, who is responsible for operations, said on Wednesday: “To date, this has not impacted response policing.”

She added: “Our Covid-19 plan provides for shift changes and the temporary diversion of staff to core policing duties.”

Ms Astwood said: “To further mitigate the effects of Covid, we have taken steps to limit public access to our facilities and established protocols for responding to calls for service.

“Where possible, staff are being advised to work from home.

“Staff are provided with the necessary personal protective equipment to perform their functions as safely as possible and cleaning routinely occurs.”

Ms Astwood added: “That notwithstanding, given the current climate, it is foreseeable that we may be faced with more positive cases – however, there are protocols in place for addressing that situation.”

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Published September 24, 2021 at 7:56 am (Updated September 24, 2021 at 7:45 am)

Firefighters and police at the ready despite Covid-19 impact on staffing

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