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Fire Department Digs Deep To Address Challenges

Fire Department Digs Deep To Address Challenges
July 05
13:12 2019

Friday, July 5th. 2019 –

It is a given that – no matter what – there is no good news about a fire, and whenever there is one, the Fire Department’s resources (or lack thereof), firefighting techniques, promptness to respond, or competence will come into question. But the Department is digging deep to come up with ways of improving its capabilities by acquiring new equipment, repairing whatever limited vehicular resources it has or getting a couple new ones, and is now in the process of acquiring new fire hydrants that will be strategically placed around the country to better aid in its firefighting effectiveness.

The measures have long been in the making, but last week’s fire that burned for hours and destroyed Fashion N More Boutique and all its contents in Belmopan exposed, once again, the department’s inefficiencies in fighting large fires for an extended period of time.

The department has only one truck in Belmopan, with a fire-fighting capacity of about four minutes maximum. That is as long as its 1,000-gallon water tank can last. Thereafter, as with most other fire trucks, it needs to source water from somewhere to continue to fight a fire.

The lack of adequate fire hydrants, compatible to work with the fire trucks’ hoses, was also an issue, as it is in every district. The older fire hydrants that exist are not capable of handling the Belize Water Services’ new connections, hence, they play hardly any role in fighting a fire.

But hope is on the horizon in that regard. Acting Fire Chief, Benisford Matura told the Reporter on Thursday that the Fire Department, which is responsible for acquiring fire hydrants, is in the process of getting a set of new ones from the United Kingdom for the entire country.

“We have money assigned to buy the hydrants so it’s just a matter of getting the order in line and get the hydrants down to us. …it will be between 50 and 100 hydrants,” Matura said, informing that it will take another two to three months for the hydrants to arrive. When they arrive, BWS and the Fire Department will install the hydrants at strategic locations. The municipal governments in these districts will be expected to keep the areas where the hydrants are installed clean and accessible.

Matura shared that there is a fire pump, worth around $80,000 on its way from Canada that will be assigned to Corozal when it arrives, and that San Pedro received a fire pump two weeks ago through the aegis of the Rotary Club of Belize. He also said that a fire truck that had been under repair for a few weeks will be assigned to Belmopan when it is finished. He said that Belize City has three fire trucks available and also has a truck in Ladyville as back-up, all of which are functional. Altogether, Belize has only 23 fire trucks across the country.

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