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Vow to replace dated fire equipment

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Assessing the damage: Jeff Baron on Front Street after Thursday’s blaze (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

After last week’s inferno on Front Street, national security minister Jeff Baron has promised to address equipment shortages in the fire service.

Firefighters fought to control and put out the flames after they broke out at 4.30am on Thursday, with efforts continuing into the afternoon.

No one was injured, but damage worth hundreds of thousands of dollars was caused to Onion Jack’s, Chewstick and about seven businesses under the umbrella of Queen Management Services.

After the incident, a Royal Gazette source revealed that the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service’s ladder truck had been out of service for about a year, causing firefighters huge frustration and ultimately hampering their efforts to beat the blaze.

Yesterday in the Senate, Mr Baron praised the “exceptional professionalism” of the firefighters, about 25 of whom had gathered at Sessions House.

After he provided an assessment of the fire and its after-effects, he addressed the rumours about the broken hydraulic vehicle, nicknamed the “Bronto”.

“The manufacturer has indicated to us that the vehicle, which was purchased in 1998, has reached the end of its useful service life,” Mr Baron said.

Progressive Labour Party senator Renee Ming queried whether a replacement vehicle would be ordered soon. Mr Baron replied that discussions were scheduled with key BFRS representatives, at which time they could ascertain both the financial viability of purchasing such a vehicle, and the potential timeline for bringing it to Bermuda.

“I want to make sure that the men and women of the fire service are not putting themselves in harm’s way to be able to do their jobs,” he said. “If they need a certain piece of equipment, it’s certainly my job to facilitate that.

“I’m going to do whatever I can, within the constraints of the budget, to make sure that happens.”

Mr Baron added that discussions would commence in September or October.

Examining the aftermath: construction workers yesterday look at the remains of the building (Photograph by Akil Simmons)