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St George needs its own purpose-built fire truck – mayor

George Dowling III, the Mayor of St George (Photograph by Owain Johnston-Barnes)

St George needs its own fire brigade – even if that means individual citizens sponsoring it, according to the town’s mayor.

George Dowling III insisted he would like government funds to be used to increase protection in St George from fire but also called for private enterprise, or citizens to financially support the frontline emergency service if that was necessary.

The mayor said that while he realised the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service was understaffed, the historic town also needed a purpose-built fire truck to deal with its narrow streets.

Mr Dowling said he was aware of the pressures of the escalating cost-of-living situation but insisted it would help if ordinary citizens or businesses contributed to providing an enhanced fire service in the area.

He also called for people to volunteer for training to help tackle blazes as had happened in the past.

“I understand that the fire service is short staffed. Period. Ideally, I believe that St George’s needs its own fire brigade and I would appreciate it if sponsors, or anybody, could help with that.

“Before the pandemic, they were training-up volunteers and then the pandemic happened and the volunteers fell away.

“But, we could bring those people back and have a company of men here and a purpose-built fire truck.

“Because, previously, the fire brigade had a fire truck that could deal with the narrow roads of the town. I believe that would be more efficient.”

Referring to sponsorship of the St George service, Mr Dowling said: “Private industry, or government, or just people that genuinely have an interest in the welfare of the town – I believe that that would help. Even if private people were willing to contribute to that, that would be a big help.

“I know times are hard and people are in hard times but we have to protect lives, protect buildings, and one impacts the other.

“If the house burns down, that’s going to impact your life.

“In the past we had a fire brigade and it was purposely attached to St George’s. It would just be nice to have that back.”

Michael Weeks, the national security minister, announced a review of the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service, looking at areas such as staffing levels and recruitment procedures, last November.

At the time he said the service had about 77 staff but was unable to say how many more might be required ahead of the review pledged in the 2022 Throne Speech.

Firefighters have complained the service is understaffed.

Mr Weeks said the study would be launched in early 2023 and although staffing at the LF Wade International Airport would be reviewed, there was no intention to lower the numbers of required firefighters on call.

He said that 11 Bermudian recruits were undergoing training overseas and “are expected to have boots on the ground on or before March 31”.

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 another year.

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Published January 04, 2023 at 7:53 am (Updated January 04, 2023 at 7:53 am)

St George needs its own purpose-built fire truck – mayor

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