President Irfaan Ali was on the ground early this morning at the site of the fire which levelled the Brickdam Police Station on Saturday.
Expressing his frustration with the Fire Service being unable to douse the blaze before it completely gutted the buildings in the Police complex, the President said the inefficiency of the Fire Service cannot be allowed to continue.
“We cannot continue as a country and as a people to not address these issues. We can’t continue to make investments and not have the return on the investments. Whether it is in the public service, in the hospitals, the inefficiency has to be weeded out”, the President told Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn and senior Police Officers.
The Guyana Fire Service appeared overwhelmed by the Saturday afternoon blaze and its initial response to the fire at the Divisional Headquarters for the Police Force in the Region, appeared inadequate.
President Ali said those providing public service should leave their jobs if they are not up to the task.
“If you do not want to provide public service then do the honourable thing. Don’t take a job in the Fire Department and believe it’s a part-time job. Don’t take the government’s assets, safety gear and leave it home when you are an emergency worker”, he told the meek-looking Fire and Police officials.
The President said in the past year alone, the Government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the Fire Service and he is not happy with the work from the service.
According to President Ali, “hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on the Fire Service and to put it crudely, you can’t even respond to an event in your backyard. And the response is not about assets you know, the response is about attitude and commitment and discipline and professionalism and it is about being in a state of readiness…I am publicly putting the Fire Service on warning, this cannot and will not be tolerated”.
Just recently, the Minister of Home Affairs and the Fire Chief accompanied the Service on an early morning show and tell exhibition on Robb Street. At that exhibition of the work it could do, both the Minister and the Fire Chief expressed confidence in the preparedness and readiness of the Fire Service to handle emergencies.
When yesterday’s emergency popped up, the scene was chaotic as the Firemen dashed into service as a large crowd gathered and they found some difficulty in sourcing fire hydrants in the area.
The fire ripped through the old wooden buildings in the police complex within an hour, leaving thick smoke and a mountain of ashes behind.
The Brickdam Police station was one of the oldest Police stations in the country. It was built in the late 1800s.