By Elesha George
One new fire truck a year as of 2021 has been pledged by National Security Minister Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin in a bid to keep residents safer in the event of a blaze.
The Minister made the announcement on Monday morning during a ceremony to mark the handing over of two water trucks to the department.
“We will make sure that we order for the Fire Brigade, a fire tender that is until such time that Mr Weaver and his men are satisfied that there are enough tenders to take care of Antigua and Barbuda,” Benjamin said, adding that his ministry had “enough money” in its budget to accommodate the purchases.
The gesture comes as welcome news for Fire Chief Elvis Weaver who, along with new Commissioner of Police, Atlee Rodney continued to request more fire trucks at the ceremony. The men recognised that there are simply not enough vehicles currently to comfortably service the entire island.
There are four fire stations in Antigua – at Johnson’s Point, Coolidge, St John’s, and All Saints – and one in Barbuda. A large number of the trucks however are stationed in Coolidge at VC Bird International Airport.
The addition of the two refurbished 500-gallon water trucks will add one fire tender each to St John’s and All Saints Fire Stations – those which service some of the largest groups of residents on the island.
These trucks also each carry 40 gallons of foam that will help to suppress active fires. Weaver said that the added feature will eliminate the need for fire officers to rely solely on the foam fire trucks at the airport for assistance.
Although the current tankers within the department boast holding capacities of 2,000-3,000 gallons of water, these refurbished trucks are predicted to make a big difference for firefighters.
Weaver said because the trucks are smaller, they will be able to better manoeuvre through the more congested communities like Grays Farm and Point.
The capabilities of officers at All Saints Fire Station had been severely hampered after its water truck went out of service over a year ago. A visibly excited group of firefighters from the station were more than happy to drive the tender to its new home.
Meanwhile, Steve Judd, the manager and engineer of Angloco – the British company that refurbished the tankers – will arrive in
Antigua next week Tuesday to provide further training on their use.
Commissioner Rodney urged officers to continue to properly maintain the vehicles and not to become complacent in their duties.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Safety and Labour Ms Stacey Gregg-Paige was said to have played a pivotal role in the acquisition of the two new tankers.