None of the three brand new fire trucks were used to help fight the blaze in Kingstown. (Photo: Lance Neverson/Facebook)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has responded to questions about why none of the three  new fire trucks bought for Argyle International Airport was used to fight the blaze in Kingstown on Sunday.

The fire, the second in the city in a week, gutted three unoccupied, government buildings on Halifax and Egmont Streets.

A fire tender from E.T. Joshua Airport was deployed to help quell the raging inferno.

But Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace and many other citizens raised questions about why none of the brand new, state-of-the-art fire trucks that arrived in the country last November was not deployed.

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“The simple answer is that those trucks have not yet been fully commissioned and there is some additional training which is required to be done, though training has been done,” Gonsalves, who, as Minister of National Security, has ministerial responsibility for the Fire Department, told Parliament on Tuesday.

The fire gutted three unoccupied government buildings in Kingstown. (IWN photo)
The fire gutted three unoccupied government buildings in Kingstown. (IWN photo)

“Now, if there is an emergency at the airport proper, it is understandable they will put them into immediate use there, and the Director of Airports understands that,” he said.

“Persons may say, ‘Why you just don’t commission them?’ Well, apart from the issue of the training, which we have to complete, and a substantial amount has been done already, the one-year warranty runs from the time of commission and that is the practical issue. That is the answer to the query,” Gonsalves said.

He described as “a legitimate query which has been raised” the questions about the non-use of the fire tenders.

“Other persons would naturally raise it. ‘You have these fire trucks, why didn’t you use one of them?’” he told lawmakers.

“But I must say the fire fighters and the Deputy Commissioner of Police told me on the night they have adequate facility with the two fire engines that they had and containing it into those areas which were affected,” said Gonsalves, who visited the scene while the buildings were on fire.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, right, and Deputy Commissioner of Police Reynald Hadaway, speak at the scene of the fire. (Photo: Jamali Jack/Facebook)
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, right, and Deputy Commissioner of Police Reynald Hadaway, speak at the scene of the fire. (Photo: Jamali Jack/Facebook)

But Gonsalves’ answers have raised further queries, in light of the fact that he said that the training of the fire fighters is incomplete.

The three fire trucks arrived in the country last November, ahead of the then December 2014 projected completion date for the Argyle International Airport.

The airport missed that completion date — one of several since 2011 — and also missed the mid-2015 target.

Yet, the training of the fire fighters is incomplete.

The government has said that the airport will be completed by year-end.

A fire tender from E.T. Joshua Airport was also deployed to help fight the blaze in Kingstown one week earlier, on Aug. 16, that gutted Coreas Mini Mart on Lower Bay Street.

A fire gutted Coreas Mini Mart on Aug. 16. (Photo: Karamo John/IWN)
A fire gutted Coreas Mini Mart on Aug. 16. (Photo: Karamo John/IWN)

4 replies on “PM explains why new fire trucks weren’t used against Kingstown inferno”

  1. Training and job competence are not the same thing.

    None of these “trained” firefighters, for example, would ever risk his life to save a child in a burning building. This has been clearly shown in the attitude towards fighting fires over the years.

    The life of the firefighter or coast guard personnel or police officer always comes first in SVG. That is how we define “public” service: protect your own backside first; worry about helping the public or saving lives second.

  2. We should not be asking why the fire trucks for the airport were not used. We should be asking those in elected office, why don’t we have sufficient fire trucks to fight fires of that magnitude that happened a these past two weeks.

    Thank you IWitness News for reporting all news. I wish the other media outlet would report the news like you do. You are my cup of tea every morning, as I come on here to check the latest news…

  3. I am horrified by this answer from Gonsalves. He is saying the town could have burnt down and the trucks stayed there because the warranty starts once they are commissioned. So what is that all about?

    Well I can tell you that those fire engines will not be commissioned even in 2016. Bringing them in prematurely and displaying them at the airport was little less than a political maneuver. It was to impress the people at home and in the Diaspora, it was to fool their minds into believing the airport will be finished and open by December 2015, it is all part of the lies and deception that we have had heaped on us now for at least five years.

    The town is more important than a fire truck, the trucks are only a million or so each, we have sustained at least a hundred million of property loss because of this fire, it could have destroyed the whole town if there had been wind. And the PM comes to us with this extremely stupid story, which if he actually believes what he has told us, proves once again that he is a fiscal dunce, and he thinks we are all stupid when it’s now proven it’s him that is stupid.

  4. Luther Bonadie says:

    You darm Vincentians are so darm foolish, when you got nothing to say you can only critize.
    As the saying goes empty barriels makes the most noise, and you Peter, and C darm Ben are the biggest of them them all.
    Not until people like you all are dead and buried that this country called St. Vincent can progress.
    Darm fools.

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