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Fahie: Insufficient fire equipment concerning, airport closure shameful

Fire officers on scene after outing the fire at VI Motors gas station in Duff’s Bottom, Tortola.

By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff

Insufficient emergency equipment to fight fires is a major concern in the British Virgin Islands, and Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie believes local government should give greater priority to the issue.

Fahie’s remark comes on the heels of Saturday’s fire at VI Motors gas station in Duff’s Bottom, Tortola.

A BVI News tally indicates more than five vehicles were damaged in the blaze, which was extinguished through a joint effort between the local fire department, the BVI Electricity Corporation, and a number of private water truck operators.

A BVI Airports Authority fire unit was also called to provide back-up; resulting in the TB Lettsome International Airport becoming temporaily closured. It has since reopened.

“I have been asking about the fire stations, fire equipment and many things along the emergency line not because I want to gain political points or to be negative. But you cannot have a country who boasts a budget of nearly $300-plus million and the fire department does not have the equipment it needs to adequately respond or adequately fight fires,” Fahie told BVI News in an invited comment.

Total serious and a total embarrassment

He described the airport’s temporary closure as a ‘serious matter’ and one he considers to be “a total embarrassment and shame which could have been avoided”.

“I am calling on the government to cease and desist [from permitting] the fire truck leaving the airport to continuously have to come to major fires causing the airport to close,” he said.

The Opposition Leader also said something adverse could have happened to the airport truck while it was responding to the gas sation fire. And if that had happened, Fahie said it would mean trouble for the territory since the airport legally cannot function without a truck on site.

“Our tourism product, our economy, cannot be made to suffer because this government is not addressing some urgent national issues especially in relation to emergency response. They need to have a priority list that will adequately address the needs of the territory now. Not a political list [but] a national list that will address the urgent needs of the territory.”

He said a ‘full plan’ for emergency response is overdue.

To buttress his point, Fahie referenced the recent fire at the R&R Malone Complex in Pockwood Pond, and the Cox Health fire, which took roughly one month to extinguish.

“You would think that some moves would have been made since then in case we had something else,” he said

“These are not Virgin Islands Party or National Democratic Party issues but national issues which need to be addressed forthwith and should already have been addressed because this government had enough money and time to plan, and there are absolutely no excuses for it not to be addressed.”

Airport fire unit took no action

According to Fire Chief Zebalon McLean, airport firefighters ‘did not take any action’ but were there for support in the event their assistance was required.

“In a case like this when it comes to the presence of fuel, we want to have as much foam nearby as possible. We don’t use water in a fuel fire because fuel floats on top of the water.”

McLean said while other fire trucks are equipped with foam capability, it was necessary to have the airport fire truck at the scene on standby.

The gas station fire took between 15 to 20 fire officers to bring it under control, BVI News was told.

Just last week, government said at least three emergency services facilities will have undergone complete repairs in the next few weeks. One of those facilities is the Capoon’s Bay Fire Station in West End.

Copyright 2018 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

35 Comments

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  1. Time will Tell says:

    Now this is the crap I can’t stand. Did this happen overnight? What did Andrew and the VIP do to improve this situation? Now here he comes to put his famous spin on this to make is sound and look like the current Gov’t alone is to blame. Just be fair and admit that some things were not given the kind of priority that it should have received by you then blame the others for not doing any better. This political BS is disgusting man!!!

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    • @Time will tell says:

      VIP has done more for emergency services in the Territory than the NDP. After eight years what has the NDP done? NOTHING!!! NDP bloggers you all take the people of this territory for ‘moo moo’. Every time Fahie open his mouth on any issue you are at your keyboards waiting to throw blame on the VIP. Well we don’t want to hear you:
      VIP did not give 7.2 million dollars of tax payers money to BVI
      Airways
      VIP did not move 8 million dollars from the EE/LL Sewerage
      Project to the Cruise Pier Project
      VIP did not overspend the Cruise Pier Project
      VIP did not give us NHI
      VIP did not build a $1.6 million dollar wall around the ESHS

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      • and.... says:

        Also – under NDP – the following have been shut down: East End fire station, CGB Police Station, West End police station….. They did nothing for the Road Town fire department with the 65million loan they had access to after the storm.

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      • ms wize says:

        to be honest this man needs to shut up. he contradicts every thing. i cant stand him as a politician, but otherwise hmmm🤔

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      • Truth Sayer says:

        To @ Time Will Tell

        You are criticism of NHI is absolute nonsense. Do you know how many lives were saved since NHI came into play? Many persons have said that they thank the day that the government brought it into being. You see, there are many persons who cannot afford any kind of insurance and there are some employers who do not have insurance for their employees and when they get sick, the government has to foot the bill. While NHI would have some flaws, it is a good thing!

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    • To Time will tell says:

      You and your NDP seem to want to win 3 general elections blaming the VIP and either always bashing and bad talking Fahie and Fraser and forgetting that you and your NDP have been in power for the past eight years. Since then you squandered far more millions than what you were accusing the VIP of doing. Tell your NDP go spend the money to get the needed firefighting equipment and solve the water problem and stop blaming Fahie all because you hate him for bad minded reasons.

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  2. Albion says:

    I have to agree with Fahie 100% on that one. If we have to shut down the airport because our fire crews cannot deal with a fire on Tortola, that is pretty much a national disgrace.

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    • @ Aldian says:

      And how long had he been in Government? Never once heard him talk about this till now. He is cool with me but this look opportunistic. Hope if he get in he fix it.

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  3. Cox Heath says:

    As of this morning when I drove pass, the Cox heath site is still smoking. It’s like the fire was never complete extinguished.

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  4. Bvi patriot says:

    THIRD WORLD. BVI WINNING. SO MUCH WINNING. TIRED OF WINNING. VOTE IN 2019.

  5. People says:

    I agree with fahie 100%

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  6. My take says:

    If we could have given away seven million dollars to a plane that didn’t fly then we can get the necessary emergency equipment and get water supplied to the people.

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  7. Mat says:

    DISPITE MR. FAHIE POLITICALLY GIMMIC AS USUAL ALL PERSONS INVOLVED DID AN AWESOME JOB BY GETTING THE FIRE UNDER CONTROLLED. I APPLAUD THEM ALL. KUDOS TO ALL THE TRUCKERS THAT WERE PRESENT.

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    • To Mat says:

      Give me a break. Everyone applaud the firefighters and others who helped to put out the fire but what fahie is saying is factual. The ndp wants to take no responsibility for any of their actions or lack thereof. They are in power now for 8yrs so blaming fahie is outdated.

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    • @Mat says:

      The word is GIMMICK. This is NO political gimmick! Do you know how many fire trucks and other emergency vehicles and equipments could have been bought from the 7.2 million dollars that was handed to BVI Airways?
      I encourage Fahie to continue speaking. We are listening and we will decide on Election Day.

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    • @Mat says:

      If a non political person was saying what Fahie said you would be here with the same BS. Fahie speak, we are listening. The choice is crystal clear: NDP must go, no but and maybe about it.

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  8. True tolian says:

    As a bvi islander I keep hearing about the seven
    millions given to bvi airways which in my estimation is not right,but i have seen it happen
    before with air bvi.but what about all you bvi
    islander that had been robbing the govt in all
    forms and fashion.What do they think about them
    selves.

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  9. SCB Resident says:

    In addition to the country needing firefighting equipment we the people also need water. Everytime the ndp is asked about this water problem they blame bi-water but since they are in office for two consecutive terms they had enough time, money, and resources to fix the water problem and stop blaming everyone else and everything else. The port over spend by $40mill so they had the money to spend on fixing this problem. Tired of the ndp poor excuses.

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  10. BeVI says:

    Every time Fahie opens his mouth the NDP bloggers get busy. Not this time. NDP, we will not be fooled this time. We will not be brainwashed this time. We will not be bribed this time. We will not give you another four years this time. We will not sit back while you continue to kill the ‘lil man’ this time. Enjoy your last days.

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  11. Voter says:

    NDP killed Fraser on the campaign trail last election. I hope they will have news on how they improved the territory these past eight years. Don’t come this time trying to kill Fahie. The voters want to hear what you have done for the past eight years to improve the Virgin Islands and what are the solutions moving forward.

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  12. @ seriously says:

    I don’t want to hear sh…t bout VIP or NDP. We have a 360 degree priority problem in this Territory. God forbid, a fire could be any of our downfall, and in light of an emergency, I do not condemn what was done to control the fire, because there goes I but for the grace of God.

    Now, unless it affected you, you would not be able to entertain the effects of the airport closure. Flights were diverted. There were passengers leaving the island who had connecting flights. Passengers on scheduled flights into the Territory were stranded. Flights on the way had to divert. Since this was not the fault of the airline, they did not put up those persons overnight in hotels. There are some of us who can say that we are “persons of much”, BUT there are also persons of little to none, and imagine coming back home with your last $20.00 and have to find a hotel room and meals that you didn’t bargain for.

    So, yes, the Territory is still recovering and we have a lot to do, and we are doing a lot. However, if the ordinary firetrucks have the capacity to carry foam, then make sure they have the foam so that the one truck at EIS does not have to leave the compound.

    We got to do better.

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    • Exactly says:

      Voting party straight is the politicians’ expectations and should NOT be voters’ obligations. THIS results in lessened accountability and transparency. A crony government elected by crony people with a crony opposition leads to cronyism with byproducts of victimization and classism that reduces the middle class. We should NOT give absolute power to any political party and expect them to do what’s best for country above party.

      Most of our essential workers and services (education, health, fire, police, public works) receive little attention to long term development. They tend to be treated as afterthoughts and the government’s approach to them is reactive versus proactive.

  13. Look thing says:

    Can’t blame the NDP supporters they were trained with one tracked minds! Everything the VIP or anyone else do is bad anything the NDP does is fine and acceptable! Set of bias clony ……!! They make me sick. Like programmed robots almost! There was never an issue as such that exists today under the VIP with the Fire Dept and if there was it would never would be ongoing for soo long. I heard that the fire Dept had been complaining way before the hurricanes and several fires ago. Right is right and wrong is wrong regardless of who said it. If you have a friend that’s a NDP supporter suggest they get counseling!

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  14. Anguilla says:

    Check down here out for the misappropriated funds from the Pier Park. Check all those whom bought second..third properties and invested in other ventures to ‘wash’ the funds. Those are partial reasons why the country is suffering on ALL fronts! Where is the grilling of the subject minister for dereliction of duty? Why hasn’t the subject minister been hauled before PAC to ascertain WHY the Fire Department has been underfunded under this dank administration? What if the fire was at the much lauded Pier Park and requires AFF (foam) due to the nature of the fire? $30-49 million overspend is quite a lot even if the scope changed on the project. Heads should’ve rolled a very long time ago and now we have evidence of the former PA acting director issuing no-bid contracts!! What [on earth] has been going on in this place?!?! The few have managed through their collective greed and nepotism to raid the barn and thief all hat they could for personal gains. All the while the ministers act clueless and sweep these issues under the rug. This little place is far to corrupt for anything decent to survive long term. Until there is a sea of change in the morals and behaviors of public officials the country will be in a perpetual free fall.

    Corruption has become the new norm under this bunch of neck-tie pirates!

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  15. 🤤Atlarge says:

    Stupid people anywhere in the world a masive fire like that they have to close the Airport and call for help SSTTRRUUPPEEDD.

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    • You ah moron..? says:

      @ Atlarge: lmfao!! You made me spit up on my display screen!! Are you f’&@$ real? So JFK, Heathrow, Charles De Gual and ALL the other major airports would close down to send their fire apparatus to help out a blaze way out of their jurisdiction? Leave the airport and passengers without any fire suppression means to go out a fire miles away….mehn geh da fudge outta here wid yah BS. IF (lack of) Action Man and his secretaries had a clue they’d have given the fire Department the basic tools & equipment they needed. Just another illustration of how far this island nation has fallen under those entrusted to do better! Lives are at stake and according to Auditors reports we have been bleeding cash for unjustified reasons for years! When will it end? When there is a class war and riots in the street? When will the revolution begin….?

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  16. BuzzBvi says:

    $7 Million given away and lining peoples pockets and we do not have a fire engine.

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  17. E. Leonard says:

    Effective fire prevention, protection and suppression is a national issue, not a political issue. It is a life-property issue; it is a quality of life issue. As such, a strong, effective and responsive Fire Service that is well resourced should be a top national priority. Protecting life needs no explanation.

    Government should set resonable and affordable minimum fire code requirements. Property owners should take reasonable and affordable measures to protect their protect. However, if a fire incident occurs, they the peace of mind and assurance that minutes (10 minutes <) within dialing 911 a fire engine should be appearing at their property. Should each district on Tortola have a fully functioning fire station? May be not. For example, East End and Long Look can have their needs met with one strategically located fire station. Other districts may have their own fire station or share a fire station with another district(s). As a goal, each property should be equidistant from a fire station. Clearly, Anegada, VG and Jost Van Dyke should have individual fire station. Perhaps government can assist some communities in establishing volunteer fire stations.

    Moreover, building a modern fire station, equipping it and staffing it is not the panacea for the current insufficiency in fire equipment. A robust equipment maintenance and repair programme must be in place to maintain and sustain equipment in a high state of reliable readiness. The maintenance and repair can be outsourced or performed in-house with trained staff.

    • Think! says:

      Well……first of all 911 not working. Called it several times to get through and no one answering on Sunday morning gone.

  18. E. Leonard says:

    Effective fire prevention, protection and suppression is a national issue, not a political issue. It is a life-property issue; it is a quality of life issue. As such, a strong, effective and responsive Fire Service that is well resourced should be a top national priority. Protecting life needs no explanation.

    Government should set resonable and affordable minimum fire code requirements. Property owners should take reasonable and affordable measures to protect their property. However, if a fire incident occurs, they need the peace of mind and assurance that minutes (10 minutes <) within dialing 911 a fire engine should be appearing at their property. Should each district on Tortola have a fully functioning fire station? May be not.

    For example, East End and Long Look can have their needs met with one strategically located fire station. Other districts may have their own fire station or share a fire station with another district(s). As a goal, each property should be equidistant from a fire station. Clearly, Anegada, VG and Jost Van Dyke should have individual fire station. Perhaps government can assist some communities in establishing volunteer fire stations.

    Moreover, building a modern fire station, equipping it and staffing it is not the panacea for the current insufficiency in fire equipment. A robust equipment maintenance and repair programme must be in place to maintain and sustain equipment in a high state of reliable readiness. The maintenance and repair can be outsourced or performed in-house with trained staff.

  19. Wow says:

    Ndp just need to go point blank period.
    Where’s the 65 million dollars the government was given hmm, that could of invest in rebuilding and getting equipments and transportation, the airport wouldn’t had need need to close because of this.

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  20. Outsider says:

    Wow….this is an embarrassment for the BVI. I agree, where is the money received for rebuilding. This country is definitely going backwards and not forward. Actually, very scary!

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  21. ccc says:

    Who is running the BVI government. Why was there sufficient equipment to fight the fire at Duff bottom on last Saturday> VIP what’s going on. This is total Kass…… Somebody dropped the ball. Parker I an sorrow for your loss.
    BVI people wake up.,……

  22. CCC says:

    DONT CRITIZE THE VIP THEY ARE DOING AN AWESOME JOB, THAT’S WHAT THEY WANTED THE VIP AND LOOK WHAT IS HAPPENING UNDER THERE WATCH. V.I.P. U ALL GOTS TO GO, TOTAL EMBRASSEMENT…

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