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‘Whole process of becoming a firefighter’ up for review, minister

Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, said a review of the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service will include an assessment of manpower needs and its recruitment criteria. (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A review of the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service will include an assessment of manpower needs and its recruitment criteria, the national security minister said this week.

Michael Weeks said the service had roughly 77 staff at present, but he said he was unable to say how many more might be required, ahead of the review pledged last week in the 2022 Throne Speech.

The speech called for “His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services to conduct a review of the Service, the first since 2010”.

Firefighters have faulted the service as understaffed.

Giving a post Throne Speech press conference, Mr Weeks said the review was expected to launch early next year, with MPs “invited to take note of that review and its recommendations”.

Although staffing at the LF Wade International Airport will be reviewed, Mr Weeks said there was no intent to lower the numbers of required firefighters on call.

He added: “We are keeping pace with the needs of the community and making sure our fire service in fit and proper.”

Eleven Bermudian recruits are currently undergoing training overseas and “are expected to have boots on the ground on or before March 31”, he said.

Airport staffing has been reinforced with a cohort of Canadian firefighters since July, and Mr Weeks announced in September that the extra staff were likely to remain in Bermuda for a further year.

Mr Weeks said it had not been necessary for the Canadian staff to undergo the rigorous vetting that new recruits undergo, since they were already on the job and specifically qualified to handle airport work.

He said Bermuda’s system of hiring firefighters was “very similar to that in Canada”.

He added that “the whole process of becoming a firefighter” would go up for review, with “each aspect of training being looked at”.

Also pledged in the Throne Speech was amending the Fire Safety Act 2014.

The move will “clarify that the National Fire Protection Agency Codes do not apply to the operation of air crash and fire rescue services and does not constitute legislation for the purposes of satisfying the UK Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Orders or any Overseas Territories Aviation Requirements“, Mr Weeks said.

“This will ensure that there is certainty around the appropriate minimum staffing levels and operations for the LF Wade International Airport.”

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Published November 12, 2022 at 7:44 am (Updated November 12, 2022 at 7:44 am)

‘Whole process of becoming a firefighter’ up for review, minister

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