Broken windows and doors, defective air conditioning units, and a faulty service vehicle are just some of the issues affecting the Virgin Gorda Fire Station.
There are seven Fire and Rescue officers currently attached to the facility and like many other buildings locally, the station was left in disrepair after the hurricanes.
On a recent visit to the sister island, BVI News observed fire officers sweeping water from the bathroom floor in an effort to prevent any in-house accidents.
Plumbing issues have caused water to drench the facility’s floor daily, so getting rid of the leak, in addition to sitting outside to escape the sweltering heat from inside the station have become daily routines for these fire officers.
Internet connectivity and the station’s official telephone lines are also still down five months after the hurricanes.
Persons on Virgin Gorda who dial ‘911’ get connected to emergency personnel on the main island of Tortola.
Tortola operators would then have to call the cellular numbers attached to the Virgin Gorda station to convey information.
BVI News was told that often times residents on the island would have to personally go to the station or to an officer’s residence when there is an emergency and cell phone networks experience glitches.
Fire officers based at the station told BVI News that they have mostly been responding to medical emergencies on the island.
Before Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the emergency facility had limited resources.
That issue is much worse now, BVI News understands.
Officers claim they work a considerable amount of overtime hours and are often more challenged when the island is crawling with tourists.
Community assisted greatly
While speaking with BVI News today, Chief Fire Officer Zebalon McLean confirmed some of the problems at the Virgin Gorda station and praised the community for assisting the officers there.
He also gave kudos to his team for being ‘the first ones on the ground’ after the hurricanes hit the island.
According to the chief, the Virgin Gorda community reached out to assist his officers in an attempt to improve working conditions at the station when it was battered by the two disasters.
“They have received some contributions from members of the public in terms of a door and a little assistance with doing some odds and ends around the building,” Chief McLean said.
“The operations continued unabated in Virgin Gorda even though the appliances over there is not as robust as it was a few years ago. But, they are still doing their best to manage,” he added.
According to the fire chief, one out of the two ambulances on the island are not operational and the lone fire truck is faulty.
It is an often-uttered sentiment that the sister islands comprising Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada are neglected by local government.